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5 confessions of a burned out hospital marketer

This post first ran on the HCCN site in February 2016.

A few months ago, I wrote a short blog post inspired by several colleagues who had confessed to me that they felt burned out and chewed up in their health care jobs. You’d expect exhaustion from nurses and doctors; these were marketing professionals.

I felt grateful to share their stories, but didn’t think anything more after the blog post. It turned out to be one of the most shared and re-tweeted posts in our agency’s five-year history of writing for our blog.

Apparently, the post resonated with our colleagues in health care marketing. Our jobs have become infinitely more complicated in the last 24 months. We’re working more hours. We have more meetings. And for many of us, less staff, budget reductions. We’re being asked to solve the problems in health care with a roll of duct tape and a pair of rusted pliers.

[RELATED: The best ways to engage with hospital employees.]

I don’t have the answers, but I do have the benefit of working with many talented health care marketers who rise above the challenges every day and exhibit grace under (increasing) pressure.

Here’s five ways to re-inspire your health care marketing career:

1. Create more white space moments

Effective CEOs say that a key to their success is giving themselves time to reflect and enrich their knowledge base. When’s the last time you shut your office door and read a book for an hour? If that feels impossible, start with 10 minutes every two hours where you look away from the computer, put down the phone, shut the door and breathe in the calm. You’ll feel refreshed and more engaged when you return to putting out the fires. One of our busiest clients decided months ago to refuse any meeting requests on Fridays. She uses that day for her “deep thinking,” and swears her decision to avoid meetings on Fridays has helped her to be a more effective leader. (We love the idea so much we propose the hashtag #NOMEETINGFRIDAYS should go viral.)

2. Host a retreat

When’s the last time you took your team offsite and had the chance to look back and look ahead? This doesn’t have to be a costly affair—even commandeering a few tables at a local Panera for a few hours would suffice. At a minimum, host a planning retreat with your staff once a year (offsite!). You’ll gain a better grasp of your collective accomplishments and identify what you should focus on next.

3. Have heroes

If you can’t remember the last time you felt inspired, it’s time to go inspiration-seeking. Having heroes —or people you look up to—will be a source of inspiration for your chaotic work life. Heroes can be people you know in health care marketing, other marketing gurus (mine is Seth Godin), or other inspiring figures from history. Reading a great biography of someone you admire will give you clues on how to live a more enriching life.

4. Walk a mile in a patient’s shoes

Chances are, your marketing office is not in the main hospital. It’s easy to get caught up in your day to day, and when you are in the hospital, you’re focused on getting to the board meeting on time. It’s easy to forget why you showed up to your health care job all those years ago. Once a month, make a commitment to round the hospital. Observe the patients and family members. See their faces. Listen to their conversations. Empathize with their situation—their happiness, their fear, their sorrow, their frustration. Let go of KPIs for the moment and help, human being to human being. Health care is the business of life and death. Returning to this amazing truth will help you restore why this is your calling.

5. Connect with colleagues

We love attending health care conferences and reading Ragan’s content for the educational value, but also because it helps remind us we’re not alone. Sometimes just knowing you’re not alone is soothing. Travel budgets have been cut for many of our hospital colleagues, but try to get to a conference this coming year. Or attend your state society’s conference—I’m sure your local colleagues would love to see your smiling face, (or better yet, volunteer!). Even commenting on blog posts (hint, hint) can provide you an opportunity to feel more connected.

A few book recommendations:

I recently finished reading three great books that can aid in helping you rediscover your purpose, enrich your career, or simply help with time management skills.

  • Leaders Eat Last — Simon Sinek shows us why modern corporations are dangerous to our health, and what to do to change them.
  • Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less — A fantastic call-to-arms to do less, but better.
  • Manage Your Day to Day — Short essays by brilliant people on what they do to simplify their work lives, be more productive, and creative.

This blog originally appeared here.

HealthCareCommunication.com