There is a reason why working in the medical field is seen as a prestigious accomplishment. Whether you are a nurse, surgeon or general practitioner, you have likely completed a significant amount of education and training to get to this point in your career. You have likely done all of this, too, out of a genuine love for the field of healthcare and an interest in helping people live well. These factors make it all the more disheartening to realize that burnout affects as many as 54 percent of doctors. What is burnout and how can it be addressed?

Many medical professionals experience burnout, and it looks different for everybody. Generally speaking, though, it is a combination of symptoms such as exhaustion, lack of interest in work, difficulty concentrating and insomnia. The following are four common reasons why healthcare workers might experience burnout.

High Expectations and Stakes

People often place medical professionals on a pedestal and assume that they know everything or cannot be wrong. This creates a dynamic in which doctors are subject to intense pressure that can ironically increase the likelihood of mistakes. According to Physician’s Weekly, in extreme cases, the pressure of patients’ expectations can lead to suicide among physicians. Though this is uncommon, burnout is the more common response to disproportionate expectations. Programs such as NCPHP work to help combat burnout, substance abuse and other issues that medical professional struggle with in response to the stress of expectations.

Difficult Hours and Schedules

In addition to the high pressure of expectations that medical professionals must deal with, many must also adapt to schedules that are unaccommodating at best. It is not uncommon for doctors to work 12 to 14-hour shifts and be on-call for unscheduled shifts, too. This demand on a doctor’s time is a highly stressful part of the job that even veteran physicians often struggle with. Browsing the NCPHP and NC Physicians Health Program Website reveals that it is a common cause of burnout for doctors who struggle to get a break from the demands of work.

Taxing Work Environment

The NCPHP and NC Physicians Health Program Website also shows that many medical professionals experience burnout simply as a result of the nature of their workplace. There are many places and positions one might practice medicine in, but regardless of the details, healthcare workers are likely to be subject to higher stress levels than other professionals. There are always crises to tend to, people to talk to and problems to fix in the medical field, and this high level of demand can cause doctors, nurses and other medical professionals to eventually experience burnout.

Emotional Impact of Work

Working in a factory surely presents its own set of challenges, but jobs which primarily entail physical labor are not likely to be as taxing as jobs which demand both physical and emotional labor. This is the case with positions in the medical field, and it is the reason why many doctors are eventually burned out within a few years of working in their chosen field. A person’s health is a very emotional subject, so when you are constantly dealing with patients’ wellbeing, you are expending a high level of emotional energy. NCPHP helps doctors deal with this burnout.

Working in medicine is a rewarding yet challenging occupation. Anybody who enters this field is doubtlessly motivated, talented and driven—but sometimes, the demands of the field are still such that you might experience burnout and other problems relating to the stress of your work. If you suspect that you might be experiencing burnout, it is imperative that you reach out and get help so that you can continue helping patients and maintaining your own wellbeing, too.