Six Helpful Strategies for Reducing Medical Practice Workplace Stress

Stress is a part of the medical world, now more than ever. There is always something that needs to be done, a patient that needs help, or paperwork that needs to be completed.

It may seem to you that there is nothing that you can do about the stressors you face in your medical practice. There is always a long list that needs to be completed, and people who need you—working with anxious patients, days where you are short-staffed, last-minute emergencies, a crowded appointment schedule, all of this can make for a stressful workday.

While most of these things may be part of the daily grind at any medical office, some things can be done to decrease and manage stress levels. It’s also important to recognize, what is normal everyday stress. Here are six strategies for reducing medical practice workplace stress.

What is workplace stress?

If we want to tackle workplace stress, we first need to understand what it is. According to the World Health Organization, workplace stress can be defined as the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the job requirements do not match the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker. Some other important facts include:

  • Stress occurs in a wide range of work circumstances but is often made worse when employees feel they have little support from supervisors and colleagues and little control over work processes.
  • There is often confusion between pressure or challenge and stress, and sometimes it is used to excuse bad management practice.

Identify stressor sources.

It’s easier to tackle stress head on when we understand the primary sources of stressors. If it’s staff conflict, collecting unnecessary fees, or a chaotic schedule, then be sure to investigate the sources with your team and figure out the best way to eliminate these issues.

However, keep in mind that there is no “one size fits all” solution to workplace stress; everyone is different and handles stress differently.

Minimize negativity.

It’s natural for humans to want to focus on the bad. However, negativity can spread like wildfire throughout any busy office.

During the day, stop and acknowledge what has gone well. Call attention to an employee that went above and beyond, note the positive experiences, or remind everyone about that grateful patient that makes everyone smile.

Prioritize your day.

Build up defenses against stress by prioritizing important daily office responsibilities. Multi-tasking is essential in any practice, but it is easy to let your endless obligations overwhelm you and your staff.

Ensure that your team manages and prioritizes their tasks on an hourly, weekly, and monthly basis. Have them tackle the most critical responsibilities first when energy levels and focus points are highest.

Create support.

To be successful, there must be a healthy support system within your office. If you have helpful and supportive employees, be sure to utilize them and make sure they can lean on each other. Encourage employees to ask for help and to confide in the people that advocate for them the most.

Co-workers are with each other more than their families most days, so they should feel supported by one another. If this doesn’t seem to be the case at your practice, start organizing some team bonding days to build and nurture those key relationships.

Communicate often.

It is a great idea to keep everyone informed about the office’s inner workings and any problems that may arise. To avoid stress among staff, it’s vital that managers and team members have a trusting relationship and can communicate openly.

Managers have to resist the urge to protect employees from workplace issues, as they can often be the ones that help you through situations.

Encourage health.

Working in the medical field, we know how important it is to stay healthy. Living a healthy lifestyle is essential for many reasons, but it is beneficial when battling stress. A healthy diet, plenty of rest, and consistent activity are great for high energy levels, combating weight gain, balancing hormones, and enhancing sleep. When people are stressed, they use certain coping mechanisms that often compound the problem, such as:

  • Smoking.
  • Using alcohol or drugs to relax.
  • Over or under-eating.
  • Social withdrawal.
  • Sleeping too much.
  • Procrastinating.
  • Binging on screen time.

Set a good example for your staff by making healthy lifestyle choices. One idea is to consider inspiring them with an in-office weight loss challenge. Not only will this promote health, but it can also help shape those supportive relationships as well.

Working in the medical field can be rewarding, but it is also highly demanding. Office stress can take a toll on you, your staff, and your patients. If your practice starts to show signs of stress, it’s time to utilize these stress-reducing strategies. After all, you cannot treat others if you do not take care of yourself and your practice first!

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