chiropractor with workplace burnoutBefore we talk about Workplace Burnout in the Chiropractic field, let’s look at what ‘burnout’ is and how it can affect us both as people and as Chiropractors. Next we’ll discuss a few chiropractic practice management techniques that can help you get through the slump.

Workplace Burnout is a condition that occurs due to high levels of stress within the workplace over a lengthy period of time. This can happen at any type of workplace and is not solely relegated to Chiropractic offices.

It starts when a person, or Doctor, feels overwhelmed by work and is unable to cope with the normal office routine due to high levels of stress, emotional and sometimes physical exhaustion. Experiencing burnout can cause a person to feel highly unmotivated and unhappy. It can reduce productivity, interrupt the normal flow of work, and even begin to affect family and social relationships. At its worst it can even have an adverse effect on the Doctor’s health.

Burnout can be caused by a number of different factors alone or in concert. Lack of control in the practice, boredom or monotony at the practice, extreme pressure to meet constant and excessive patient demands and a lack of recognition can all lead to burnout.
Burnout does not happen overnight but over many months and sometimes even years. It builds slowly in most cases and comes to a head when things are most stressful, such as slow periods when new patient visits are down or when more than the normal amount of patients begin to complain that the results they are getting aren’t sufficient.

Signs of Workplace Burnout

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Most of the early signs of burnout are related to high stress levels and other mental issues rather than the actual physical state of a Doctor’s well-being. Feelings like frustration, hopelessness, irritability and lack of emotional energy are all early signs.

As the state of burnout progresses, physical symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia, weight gain or weight loss may occur. It is during this later stage that a Chiropractor is at higher risk of developing extreme mental depression and other emotional problems such as anxiety attacks or angry outbursts. Obviously these are things we don’t want happening in front of patients or, for that matter, anyone else.

A great way to find out if you are suffering from possible burnout is to take the test below. It’s best to be as honest as possible and not take too long trying to ‘figure out’ the questions. Just answer them honestly and quickly and move on.


Yes No  I find myself feeling unusually fatigued or tired after seeing patients.

Yes No  In the morning I have a sense of dread in the pit of my stomach when I think about having to adjust patients all day.

Yes No  I am always a few minutes late. Sometimes I arrive after the first few patients have already arrived.

Yes No  I haven’t exercised regularly for a few weeks or months.

Yes No  I can’t seem to reach any of my office goals or catch up on needed paperwork.

Yes No  I’m starting to look at patients in a negative way, and I am less patient with their questions.

Yes No  I spend more time alone than I do with my family.

Yes No  I tell myself that I am a failure or that I am not where I am supposed to be in my life.

Yes No  I’m using sex, drugs, food, alcohol or some other diversion to make me ‘feel better’.

Yes No  I wonder what other jobs or careers I could be doing besides Chiropractic.


If you answered YES to 3 or more of the above questions then you are suffering from burnout and need to do something to get your Chiro mojo back before you blow a gasket.

Chiropractic practice management strategies to help with workplace burnout

Most burnout problems can be alleviated with the same methods used to combat stress. Physical exercise is a must, especially since the profession we have chosen is a physically demanding one. Regular exercise helps to keep you balanced and the endorphins can be a depression reducer.

happy chiropractor and chiropractic assistantTaking regular breaks is a great chiropractic practice management strategy, especially if you have an associate who you trust to handle the practice while you are away. Two to three weeks of vacation a year is best if you can swing it. If you don’t have an associate but use modalities like massage you can put the practice on ‘auto pilot’ while you go away, leaving it in the hands of a trusted chiropractic assistant or office manager.

Getting together with other Chiropractors in your area is another great way to blow off steam, get out some pent-up patient aggression, and to see that you’re not the only DC around who has the same feelings. Switching techniques is also an option, especially if you aren’t ‘married’ to your technique. Trying new things and learning something different can be fun and help you to get over the burnout slump.

In the end, just remember that you are providing a valuable service to your community and that there are many people out there who owe you thanks, even if they don’t always say it. There are few occupations in the world that give as much back to society as Chiropractic, so be proud that you’re part of that and keep your head held high.

Click here if you’d like to read about more ways to avoid workplace burnout through solid chiropractic practice management strategies.

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