Burnout Can Kill Your Dreams as a Medical Assistant

Article Categories: Mental Health & Other

A dying ember… As a medical assistant, you feel that the last spark of hope and passion is almost gone as you go about your daily ordeal in the workplace.

You drag yourself to work every day. As you start your day, you see your physician who didn’t wait a second before flooding you with things to do. You hear them talk, but you seem to not comprehending the entirety of what they are saying. Everything that you see seems like a blur. Maybe it’s just the headache you are having almost every morning for the last two weeks. You ask yourself, “What good can come out of this day?” even if you don’t expect any positive outcomes for the remainder of your shift. Patients are not being cooperative, and their family is so demanding, but you don’t care a bit. Several documentations are waiting to be finished, and you still need to call the pharmacy. At the end of the day, you mutter to yourself, “I am sick and tired of all this.”

If this scenario is all too familiar to you, you are experiencing burnout.

Burnout is physical and mental exhaustion that makes a health employee work like an unfeeling machine detached from the very essence of their job. Burned out workers have poor performance and are prone to medical errors. Thirty to fifty percent of physician assistants are overly stressed. This huge percentage represents a big number of MAs putting patients’ lives in danger.


First, be aware that anyone can experience burnout at any time, so it is good to determine if you are on the verge of exhaustion. If you find yourself starting to feel exhausted, focus on daily achievements, however small. Do a little self-talk and remember how you chose this path over others. You have a special calling to help patients and to make a difference as a medical assistant.

The next step to do is to take some quality time off. Do not wait until your exhaustion gets the better of you. If you are starting to lose your compassion toward patients and your enthusiasm for work, it is a sign that you need to recharge and reset. Waiting until you are too exhausted or burned out will make you take drastic measures which you might later regret, like being AWOL (absence without official leave) or suddenly quitting without carefully thinking over your decision.

As you pick yourself up, identify things at work which you can change and control within the scope of your practice. Having a sense of control as an MA is a significant factor to keep you engaged at your job. If you have issues with your physician, this is a perfect time to communicate your concerns to them and start working toward a solution. Be sure to be objective regarding the matter and avoid being an emotional mess. Accept the things that you cannot change. If for example, you feel frustrated over the lack of institutional policies, work with whatever you have on hand.

Have someone to talk to, a family member, a trusted colleague who is highly engaged, or even a professional counselor. Sometimes, that is all it takes to get back on track.

If all else fails, do not lose hope. You do not have to stop being a medical assistant. Maybe a change of environment is all you need, like a change of department, or a change of direction from being a clinical MA to an administrative MA.

Whatever you are going through, never let the fire inside you die out and let something good in your life die with it. A life of service as a medical assistant is not without challenges, but if you stay long enough to discover the rewards of being one, they will give your life a great sense of purpose and accomplishment.

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