Burnout in Clinical Research Is Real

Written by Nicole M. Palmer and John R. Nocero

Working in clinical research you can get burnout fast if you don’t set healthy boundaries. There are tight timelines and pressure from upward management to meet trial requirements. There’s always a sense of urgency. It’s important to set boundaries very early on. Set expectations and stick to them. For example, if you set the boundary that you are going to be away on vacation, take the time and enjoy it. For example, don’t open your email while you are on vacation and start responding to emails. Remember, this is your time! Don’t feel guilty for taking time off. This is your moment to reboot and come back refreshed. Think of it this way, if you answer that one email while on vacation this will lead to another email or multiple. Then you get sucked back into working when you should be enjoying the limited amount of time you have. 9 times out of 10 answering that one email will not speed up a process. How often is there a clinical research emergency? A TRUE clinical research emergency? Are they going to shut down the study or stop enrollment if you don’t answer that one email? My guess is NO! It can wait.

John, have you ever experienced burnout? Did you ever feel like you had to “pay your dues” or “put in the hours?”

Over the years, I have learned to structure my life to prevent burnout. You have seen my tagline here many times – work, workout, sleep, repeat. It’s not catchy, it’s a thing. That is how my life is structured. I work daily, work out vigorously to keep my mind sharp and my body sweet, sleep to recover, and repeat it. I still say no to the unimportant things and yes only to the most important. That’s another thing – for me if it is not HELL YES! It is no. I just want to do the things I love to do. And everything else is a no.

I do fun things on the weekends, my hobbies, etc, but still make time for the most important things to me.

Also, I was telling a colleague yesterday, that I still have the passion to sit in my chair 15 hours a day. I still love this dude, I still love managing my team, being involved in everything, and leading up quality. When that stops being fun, we will do something else.

Speaking of dues, the rent is due every day and I love paying it 😉

Key Takeaways

  • Set Boundaries
  • Ask yourself, ‘Is this a true clinical research emergency?’
  • Take care of yourself
  • Recognize the signs if it doesn’t become fun anymore

As always, if you have a clinical research question, we are always happy to help.

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