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June 21, 2013

Professional Issues Class Post: Burn Out

We talked about what you want in a career.  We talked about the options of work settings.  We talked about non-traditional and traditional settings.  There is no reason then for an SLP to burn out of the career.  But we do.  Why?  Are you someone who may be prone to burn-out?  If so, talk about what you can do to prevent or manage it if happens.

Burnout... it happens to the best of us.  This can truly be said about any job, in fact.  I experienced the sensation of burnout in my previous career as a retail store manager-- a job that left me stressed, exhausted, and unsatisfied in many ways, which I now see as a blessing since it was the catalyst that inspired me to find a career in speech-language pathology!

That being said, burnout is something that can occur in any setting, but I think as long as certain precautions are utilized, the effect of burnout can be minimized or eliminated in every way! As I mentioned above, I experienced major burnout in my first career as a retail manager after only 5 years in the profession... but I feel the requirements of the job were what contributed to my burnout levels, much more than my personal demeanor-- I am not typically someone who experiences that type of emotional negativity, so really attribute my burnout rate to the long and demanding hours required of a retail worker, the stresses involved in maintaining a multi-million dollar establishment, and the toils of negotiating the intricate details of a diverse staff.  I firmly believe that the job requirements were the elements that lead to my immediate burnout rate.

The key, for me at least, is that of time management.  Knowing that I will be entering a new profession that offers more manageable working hours is a blessing in and of itself! Unless I choose to, no more working nights and weekends! Woohoo!  In addition, depending on my location and employment setting, I can decide if I will "leave work at work" or bring it home with me--something I never had much of an opportunity to do in my previous career.  Being able to come home without bringing my work home with me, unless I choose to do so, is something I am very excited about.  In addition, since my new profession will allow me more advanced income opportunities, I can decide how rigorous or lax I want to be in how much I am working at the time.  Should I begin to feel stressed or overworked, I can choose to pull back and work a bit less, without such a monumental loss of income, as it was in my earlier retail life.  Sadly, in moments of extreme dissatisfaction, I found myself being pushed faster and further as a retail manager--there were simply no other options available to me.

I think the real message here in preventing me from becoming burnt out is that of empowerment.  I can make decisions on how much, how long, how hard, and what setting I choose to work, which gives me a great deal of wiggle room to make adjustments needed, should I begin to feel the pangs of burnout.  Honestly, with such a great variety offered in the SLP profession, I can easily see me moving on to a new setting with different populations and challenges, should I find myself hitting a professional crisis.  One must always self-evaluate how they are feeling in certain situations and make important and smart decisions on how to fix negative feelings, and this is no different.  Being an SLP means that I have many more options available to me should I ever feel burnt out, but something tells me that it would take a great deal for me to reach that mental status--this profession is just too interesting and diverse for burnout to last that long!

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