TaVona Boggs and I share many funny analogies to discuss a more serious matter- burnout in healthcare. She had her beginnings in the physical therapy world 17 years ago. TaVona quickly moved up to clinical director and when she was denied PTO to see her brother graduate from NYU, she resigned and began her own contracting company, Balance Care and Wellness. Although she found that she gained greater flexibility and autonomy this way, she recognized there was still a glass ceiling. She gained certifications in wellness and life coaching, which gave her more excitement and opportunities in her work. She saw OTs/PTs fresh out of school not too long along with over 100k+ in debt and realized that she can help her profession. She created the Burnout Resilience Program at the hospital she works at and teaches her colleagues about “Thrival Skills.” TaVona offers many golden nuggets on some of the biggest things that contribute to burnout- the things you may not even be thinking of.
Here are the biggest three takeaways from our conversation:
FOUR SLICES OF YOUR PIE
TaVona hit boredom and glass ceilings in her career as a PT. She believes that although schools provide us with the clinical skills, we can learn these Thrival Skills that will help us thrive in our work and be well-rounded individuals. Although clinical skills and knowledge which is ¼ of the pie emphasize growth in clinical knowledge through CEUs, what about the rest of the pie? This is something that I, Erika had neglected when I graduated school because I didn’t know they existed. Here are the other parts of the pie:
- Non-clinical skills: negotiations, presentations, public speaking, etc.
- Personal skills: self-care, mindset, self-management, financial wellness, etc.
- Interpersonal skills: how do you engage with patients, active listening, motivational interviewing, etc.
We spend a lot of time, money, and energy focusing on only that ¼ of that pie (ahem,
our clinical skills) and work harder in improving that one area thinking it will solve the
problem of burnout. Back when I burned out, self-care wasn’t even a trend. Even though
it is ‘on trend’ now, how often are you nourishing the other parts of your pie?
“We’re armed with a lot of clinical skills…the other parts of the pie includes non-clinical skills, personal skills, and interpersonal skills. ” -TaVona Boggs
WHAT IS IN YOUR WAY?
We need to look at all the things in your life that are be contributing to your stress and burnout. When you have so much to do and you feel like you just can’t get it done, assess your context. How does your physical environment support your recovery? Do you have problems with clutter, staying organized, managing your finances, maintaining a healthy routine? Use the WHEEL OF LIFE to self-assess your life so that you can determine what areas of your life you have control over so you can start taking action to improve those areas. The main question is how can you round out your pie from the example above? Building autonomy in one area of your life can add a sense of mastery, especially in an area of your pie that can use more of your attention and energy.
“When people feel defeated they don’t continue to share or follow up…which leads to negative action or inaction, which leads to negative results. ” -TaVona Boggs
BURNOUT IS THE PROBLEM. WHAT’S THE SOLUTION?
TaVona believes that those who specialize can go way deep into their knowledge and tend to be better paid, more valued, more appreciated, and more knowledgeable. Many OTs and PTs function as generalists who frequently get the kitchen sink in terms of diagnoses and patients, which can be overwhelming and inconsistent. With that being said, she’s gotten three major epiphanies about solutions for burnout:
- Cultivating Thrival Skills
- Becoming a specialist vs. a generalist
- Having your own practice
TaVona talks about insurance reimbursements continue to go down. It can be discouraging to not receive a yearly raise even to cover inflation. Prevention health and wellness practices both online and offline look like the future for many OTs and PTs. For example, If we promote prevention in a patient that is pre-diabetic, it is a lot less expensive to keep a person healthy than it is to treat a person with diabetes. Also, don’t be afraid to take action. Sometimes we need to follow up with people and remain persistent when we want to make positive changes at work. One of the biggest and most helpful Thrival Skills TaVona shares is the mindset piece of approaching a difficult situation with positive expectations in order to help yield positive results.