Simon was an overseas student whose medical education in Australia was funded by his family. This came with the expectation that he would become a specialist and would support his family back home. He has done well with his studies as he has studied very hard throughout medical school. He admits that he is a ‘bit of a perfectionist’.
He is now an intern and had been finding it very difficult. He always felt like he was behind on his paperwork, never got to really understand what was happening with his patients and felt like he didn’t know enough about the conditions that he was seeing. He tried looking things up each night after work but was too tired at the end of the day, had difficulty concentrating and then struggled to fall asleep. For several months, he had been quite cynical about medicine and the hospital administration. He had displayed very little tolerance or concern for patients, with whom he had at times become quite annoyed. He had been openly scathing about his level of remuneration and had been wondering for some time about his competence and whether he was in the right career, but he felt ‘trapped’. He had started drinking some alcohol by himself in the evenings in order to relax.
He saw a GP who diagnosed burnout. She talked to him about how to look after himself more by stopping the alcohol, and eating, sleeping and exercising appropriately; encouraged him to do some mindfulness with a phone app; taught him some cognitive behavioural techniques such as challenging negative thoughts and looking for evidence that he does not know enough; and encouraged him to contact the friends he has lost touch with. She saw him every two weeks initially and he gradually improved. She referred him to a psychologist to gain some more CBT skills and continued to see him every month or two for the rest of his intern year.