Letting Go of the Workday

A team in the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) has come up with an end-of-day checklist that helps them achieve work-life success and de-stress.

Pradip Kamat, MD, a Pediatric Critical Care Physician and Medical Director of Sedation at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Egleston Hospital, first spotted the concept of taking specific steps to separate work and home on Twitter.

"There is a lot of talk these days on social media about burnout and people getting stressed at work,” Dr. Kamat says. “People tend to take the stressors of the day home with them, which leads to burnout faster.”

In hopes of avoiding this, members of Dr. Kamat’s team in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Egleston Hospital have started to use a tool from Strong4Life, a program of Children’s, to help them de-stress after a busy day at work: the Letting Go of the Workday checklist, which outlines five simple steps to evaluate the day and begin the post-work transition. The steps are:

  1. Take a moment to contemplate today.
  2. Identify three difficult things about the day. Let them go.
  3. Identify three things that went well. Hold on to them.
  4. Choose a signal that marks the end of your workday. Commit to stopping here.
  5. Switch your attention to going home, resting and recharging.

"The PICU can be a high-pressure environment," Dr. Kamat says. “While we cannot change the stressors of our job, we can make small changes in how we deal with those factors. I think this is a good step—let me change my thought process, change my perception, and that will hopefully decrease the burnout I am feeling.”

Posters near the PICU exits remind nurses and physicians to run through the checklist as they wrap up their day. This exercise can be particularly helpful for caregivers who are just starting their careers.

“I think the newer team members will now realize that at the end of a challenging day, it is important to keep work at work, go home and be with your family, and leave the stressors of the day behind,” Dr. Kamat says. “There’s an old saying that ‘Shared sorrow is half sorrow; shared joy is double joy.’ I think it’s important that we all realize the need to prioritize a work-life balance. The checklist is a visual reminder to help folks focus, be mindful and say, hey, this day is not lost—there will be better days when I come to work next time.”

An unexpected benefit of having the checklist posters on display in the unit is that the de-stressing tips have proved valuable for patients’ families as well. “Some of these families live next to their kid’s bedside 24/7,” Dr. Kamat says. “They benefit from taking a few moments to recharge as well."

View the Letting Go of the Workday poster.

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