I posted this article months ago, but want to reprise it with this key addition. Another neon sign of burnout are misplaced priorities. Meaning? Simple, you forget yourself. You are so consumed by the work, you forget your health, your family, your life. For those of us who came into hospice chaplaincy from the pastorate know the ridiculous demands and superhuman expectations. Friends, there is freedom in hospice chaplaincy. As a Manager, I do NOT expect my Chaplain Team to work themselves beyond human capacity and demand they work 24/7. What I do expect is that each Chaplain maintain spiritual, emotional, and physical health. Ours is a Chaplain-friendly environment. Claim your liberty! Now, for the rest of the article.
There is no doubt that hospice chaplaincy is one of the most draining professions in healthcare. We hear of nurses that burn out; social workers that burn out; and, now, we will talk about Chaplains that burn out. Here are 3 sure signs you are burning out:
1. You isolate yourself. You don’t connect with your Team, your Team Manager, your fellow Chaplains, and your Spiritual Care Director. You’re on your own and you don’t even realize it. You break off conversations because you say you have patients to see (you do, but not right away…you could have spent time in fellowship). You make up ‘reasons’ to avoid Chaplain meetings. Your excuses sound acceptable, no one questions you. At first, the isolation bothers you, but after a while, it is your new normal. Friend, you’re headed for trouble.
2. Your work begins to suffer. You’ve been an excellent Chaplain, but now your work is slipping. You make one call to a new patient to set an appointment and if there is no answer, you leave a message and ask the patient or caregiver to contact the office should they need you. They never call… and you are ok with it. The passion is gone. The urgency is gone. You call them once, document it, then forget it. In addition, you neglect your patients. I can’t tell you how many unfulfilled promises of a visit I have read through the years by Chaplains who are burned out. Some of these unfulfilled promises (better termed “lies” because that is what they really are) were made up to a year ago or longer. Friend, you’re in trouble now.
3. You are beyond asking for help. Your work pattern seems to be like quicksand. You can’t get out of it. You’re stuck and getting sucked down, helpless to stop the strong tug downward. You now recognize what is happening. Your productivity is extremely low, fellow IDT members are talking, calls are being made to your Managers by caregivers, complaints are filed. Fried, it’s over.
Burnout is a terrible thing. Yet, it can be averted. But, you’re the only one who can call for help. Self-awareness that was honed to a sharp edge gets dull. You have to recognize that. Unless there is someone on the IDT that really knows you well, you will become more isolated. If you are burning out and are reading this and have gotten to this point in the article, I urge you to contact your Managers. We get it. We can and will help.