Start the conversation about your overwhelming work schedule.
With the World Health Organization’s acknowledgement of “Burn-out” from workplace stress as a real thing, it seems that workers from all sectors are finally feeling validated that no, they’re not crazy and, yes, their jobs are almost impossible to handle: emotionally, psychologically and, as a result, physically.
And, let’s be honest, rehabilitation therapists are at very high risk for burn-out.
With ever-increasing documentation and productivity expectations, many therapists are feeling wrung dry. I know this from experience. At the peak of my burnout, I checked myself into the ER for severe abdominal pain from stress. A fellow OT was admitted to the ICU for work stress-induced pnuemonia.
We may be more extreme examples of burn-out, but it did teach me a very valuable life lesson: Take care of myself!
Is ‘everyone’ around you saying you should be able to handle 100% productivity plus a grillion projects- without billing overtime? (All with a smile on your face because you’re helping people, dagnabbit?) Are you chronically overwhelmed and exhausted by it? Then ‘everyone’ is incorrect!
That’s why we wrote a script that you can Copy-and-Paste (and edit to fit your situation) – to help you begin the conversation about an overwhelming schedule.
1) Try to communicate any questions or concerns with your manager before they become a bigger issue
2) Email your supervisor on a Wednesday or Thursday (typically the least busy days in the office)
3) Problem solve solutions. Check out our How to Be More Productive Post for ideas. Get tips from a colleague who seems to have a good system down.
4) Explain the situation to your supervisor simply, without blaming anybody, and ask to discuss the matter further.
5) Or just straight up ask for what you want, talking about how you “feel” (this comes across as less critical). End the request with “would that be reasonable?”
Let’s say that your schedule as a home health therapist has been full, and you are treating 5-6 patients per day. However, the schedulers started placing new evaluations on your schedule, so you feel pressured to see 6-7 patients per day. Write an email to your supervisor (CC the schedulers):
Hello Supervisor, I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed by my caseload recently, especially given the severity of disorders I am currently treating. I am grateful to have a full caseload, yet I feel that the quality of my therapy suffers when I see 6 or more patients per day. Would it be reasonable for the following evaluations to be extended 2 weeks out? I reviewed the case histories, and these patients appear safe enough for speech therapy to come at that time. I really appreciate your consideration and I look forward to your reply.
(Of course your particular case may differ, so edit your email accordingly!)
Most supervisors will do their best to work with you. They want to keep their excellent employee (you!) and you have leverage in that; don’t forget it!
Unfortunately, there are some companies who may not be willing to adjust your schedule, despite your diligent efforts to meet their productivity standards and to communicate respectfully. At this point, you may want to consider whether the strain is worth it.
We do important work – not just with our clinical skills but with our compassionate care for our patients.
Let’s extend that compassion to ourselves, shall we?
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