Burnout can take a heavy toll on healthcare professionals. Work-related stress can lead to physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism, and decreased job performance.
A licensed clinical social worker and registered expressive arts therapist will share strategies to avoid burnout during Addressing Burnout: Fostering Calm, Coping and Resiliency for Rheumatology Professionals at 11 a.m. PT on Tuesday, Nov. 14, in Room 30D-E of the San Diego Convention Center. The session will be available on demand within 24 hours for registered ACR Convergence 2023 participants.
“It is important for individuals and organizations to prioritize self-care, resilience, and well-being to prevent burnout and promote job satisfaction,” said Reji Mathew, LCSW, PhD, REAT, Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Silver School of Social Work at New York University. “By addressing these factors, rheumatology professionals can continue to provide high-quality care to their patients while maintaining their own physical, mental, and emotional health.”
The hands-on session is designed to help attendees identify risk factors that contribute to burnout; identify coping strategies to deal with cognitive, emotional, and behavioral stress; and understand a neuroscience-informed mental health framework for coping with prolonged stress and adapting to challenging cultural contexts.
“Dr. Mathew is an excellent speaker whose highly original content and perspective will resonate for a broad spectrum of rheumatology professionals and advocates,” said Joan Westreich, LCSW, Social Work Coordinator for the Early Arthritis Initiative of the Inflammatory Arthritis Center at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, who will provide an introduction for the session. “Drawing on her clinical and academic work, as well as her lived experience as an abilities activist, she will deliver a thought-provoking presentation replete with insights, tools and resources.”
Dr. Mathew, who is also an integrative cognitive behavioral and dialectical behavioral psychotherapist, will provide psychoeducation on a range of coping strategies, drawing from cognitive-behavioral therapy, mindfulness, polyvagal theory, behavioral science, trauma, and intermodal expressive arts.
The self-care regimen of healthcare providers must include getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising regularly, she said. In addition to attending to one’s physical needs, mental self-care involves taking breaks, setting boundaries, and practicing mindfulness. Emotional self-care involves seeking support from colleagues, friends, and family.
Healthcare professionals also need to build up resilience so they can bounce back from adversity and cope with stress. A positive mindset is key to building resilience, Dr. Mathew said. That involves focusing on successes rather than dwelling on failures and shortcomings. It also involves reframing negative thoughts.
Building strong relationships with colleagues and developing a sense of community can provide a source of support and resilience, too.
In addition to individual self-care strategies, Dr. Mathew said it is important to address organizational factors that contribute to burnout.
“This includes addressing workload and staffing issues, providing opportunities for professional development and growth, and fostering a positive work environment,” she said. “Organizations should prioritize employee well-being to promote job satisfaction and retention.”