March 28, 2023


Xinyu Li, BA, MS3, Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine

Xinyu Li, BA“Burnout”

Modern-day bloodletting
In the clinical setting.
Like donating plasma
Under the dull-yellow fluorescent lights,
I am wrung out
Of my very
My patients and I, we lay in parallel—
The both of us eyes glazed over
Just so we can make ends meet.
Tomorrow, I’ll wake back up
Just to do it all the same.

Since beginning medical school, I have been continuously learning how to manage my own resources. My own experiences have led me to view burnout metaphorically as a blood or plasma donation of the spirit — except that there are fewer checks and balances to ensure that someone is not, essentially, giving too often. Medicine has progressed significantly in terms of limiting duty hours and expanding resident and medical student protections; however, much of the onus remains on the individual to stave off the siphoning of their own spirit. I can only offer my own humble solutions that have offered me some reprieve: I deliberately turn off all notifications on weekend mornings, I make trips out to a lake to paint and I re-evaluate all my commitments biannually to see if they still align with my goals. By addressing my human needs and desires, I torniquet the drain on my spirit and rejuvenate my passion for medicine.

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