Clinician Self-Care

  • S. Judith LongEmail author


Self-care is a core competency for all clinicians that strengthens professional and personal satisfaction, enhances connections with patients and clinical effectiveness, and protects against the risk of burnout. Burnout is a prevalent occupational hazard in health care that is defined by physical and emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a loss of feelings of efficacy. Burnout can have a significant impact on the health of clinicians, the care they provide, and even their ability to continue in their chosen profession. Clinicians can learn to recognize its early signs and develop strategies that protect against burnout and build resilience to assure a satisfying professional and personal life. Just as the palliative approach to patient care emphasizes supporting all aspects of personhood, our approach to self-care also encompasses care of the physical, emotional/social, mental, and spiritual parts of oneself. In this chapter we discuss a variety of strategies to promote self-care and build positive practices and habits.


Burnout Compassion Self-compassion Connection Efficacy Purpose Resilience Self-care 


  1. 1.
    Maslach C, Jackson S. The measurement of experienced burnout. J Organ Behav. 1981;2(2):99–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Sigsbee B, Bernat J. Physician burnout: a neurologic crisis. Neurology. 2014;83(24):2302–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Hallenbeck J. Burnout and engagement, powerpoint lecture. Palo Alto: Stanford and Palo Alto VA; 2017.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Busis N, Shanafelt T, Keran C, Levin K, Schwarz H, Molano J, et al. Burnout, career satisfaction, and well-being among US neurologists in 2016. Neurology. 2017;88(8):707–808.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Owens S. AAN Survey: six out of ten neurologists report feeling burned out: what can be done to fix the problem? Neurol Today. 2017;17(6):1–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Kamal A, Bull J, Wolf S, Swetz K, Shanafelt T, Ast K, et al. Prevalence and predictors of burnout among hospice and palliative care clinicians in the US. J Pain Symptom Manag. 2016;51(4):690–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Wright A, Katz I. Beyond burnout—redesigning care to restore meaning and sanity for physicians. N Engl J Med. 2018;378(4):309–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Shanafelt T, Boone S, Tan L, Dyrbye L, Sotile W, Satele D, et al. Burnout and satisfaction with work-life balance among US physicians relative to the general US population. Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(18):1377–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Halifax J. A heuristic model of enactive compassion. Curr Opin Support Palliat Care. 2012;6(2):8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Hauser J. Self-Care. Teaching module from Education in Palliative and End-of-Life Care (EPEC) Program. Last accessed 28 Aug 2018.
  11. 11.
    Dzau V, Kirch D, Nasca T. To care is human—collectively confronting the clinician-burnout crisis. N Engl J Med. 2018;378(4):312–4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Back A, Steinhauser K, Kamal A, Jackson V. Building resilience for palliative care clinicians: an approach to burnout prevention based on individual skills and workplace factors. J Pain Symptom Manag. 2016;52(2):284–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Kelsey E. The Rise of Ocean Optimism. Hakai Magazine 06/08/2016. Last accessed 28 Aug 2018.
  14. 14.
    Fredrickson B, Grewen K, Coffey K, Algoe S, Firestine A, Arevalo J, et al. A functional genomic perspective on human well-being. Proc Natl Acad Sci. 2013;11013684–13689.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Cacioppo J, Patrick W. Loneliness: human nature and the need for social connection. New York: W.W. Norton; 2008.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Crum A, Leibowitz K, Verghese A. Making mindset matter. BMJ Br Med J. 2017;356.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Seery M. Resilience: a silver lining to experiencing adverse life events? Curr Dir Psychol Sci. 2011;20(6):5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Jinpa T. A fearless heart: how the courage to be compassionate can transform our lives. New York: Hudson Street; 2015.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Emmons R. Thanks!: how the new science of gratitude can make you happier. New York: Houghton Mifflin Hardcourt; 2007.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Neff K. Self-compassion: stop beating yourself up and leave insecurity behind. New York: Harper Collins; 2011.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Germer C. The mindful path to self-compassion: freeing yourself from destructive thoughts and emotions. New York: Guilford Press; 2009.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Levine P. In an unspoken voice: how the body releases trauma and restores goodness. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books; 2010.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Cullen M, Brito PG. The mindfulness-based emotional balance workbook: an eight week program for improved emotion regulation and resilience. Oakland: New Harbinger; 2015.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Glassman B. Bearing witness: a zen master’s lessons in making peace. New York: Penguin; 2013.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Back A, Rushton C, Kaszniak A, Halifax J. “Why are we doing this?”: clinician helplessness in the face of suffering. J Palliat Med. 2015;18(1):5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Spiritual Care Services University of California San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA
  2. 2.Department of Neurology and the Division of Palliative MedicineUniversity of CaliforniaSan FranciscoUSA

Personalised recommendations