How a Different Kind of Vision Can Save You from Burnout

I’d be willing to bet a handsome sum that each of us have either experienced the effects of professional burnout, or worked with or been close to a fellow medical professional who has.

If you’ve been thinking in recent years that the demands and stresses of the medical environment appear to be getting more and more difficult to keep on top of, don’t worry – you aren’t imagining it, and you’re certainly not alone.

Just like stress and overwhelm in individual, personal cases, this state of affairs has crept up within the industry throughout the course of many years. Take the 2017 Medscape Lifestyle Report as a clear indicator, which reveals that burnout rates for all physician types in the US have been trending upwards since 2013.

In fact, in 2013 the overall rate of reported burnout was 40%. This year, it’s 51% – a massive 25% increase in just 4 years.

Researcher Debbie Cohen at Cardiff University headed up a similar study for the UK, discovering that a staggering 60% of UK doctors had experienced issues with mental health – 82% in England when taken in isolation.

I’m part of that 82%. And it’s why I do what I do.

My Burnout Breakdown

Just like you, I worked beyond hard throughout my life to gain the qualifications and pursue the career that I have. As a successful and respected ophthalmic surgeon, I later took my skills abroad, launching charitable clinics to help those affected by conflict in Iraqi war zones. I faced no small amount of resistance in doing so, even from fellow doctors.

But as I was doing all of this, devoting my time and energy so single-mindedly to caring for others, I failed to care for myself. My weight spiralled out of control. My family life became combative and fractured.

I was tired. I was depressed. Every ounce of confidence was slipping away from me. And as you could expect, pretty soon I suffered a full-on Burnout Breakdown.

The effects of burnout can’t be understated in their viciousness – but they can be difficult to open your eyes to. Exhaustion, feeling constantly drained and irritable, is a prime indicator. Depersonalisation follows up – causing detachment, cynicism or ambivalence toward your work and your patients. It’s difficult to care when you’re losing grip on your meaning.

And when there’s no meaning, there’s no achievement. No sense of reward for your hard work. Just an endless slog without an escape hatch in sight.

Back from the Brink

For the sake of my family, and before I took any more drastic action in my vulnerable state, I decided to visit a local wellness coach… and after just four sessions the clarity I gained, and the improvement it made in my life, was astounding.

Unfortunately, it only took me so far. I came to see that the general strategies I was instructed to use were superb up to a point — but reaching what I could consider a personal finish line seemed impossible.

It was only through my understanding of the world of medicine, the unique demands and pressures it places on those who work within it, and applying my own principles and experience to what I had learned that I managed to push through.

The weight dropped off and I saw the world in an entirely different light.

This was the birth of who I am today: The Third Eye Doctor.

The steps I took and the strategies I formulated to bring myself back from the edge of disaster also became the basis for my unique coaching course for medical professionals: The Spirited Breakthrough.

But what’s with the whole Third Eye thing? Well, it isn’t anything mystical. It’s about looking inward, gaining clarity, understanding, and friendship with ourselves. Knowing what drives you, what upsets you, what excites you and what truly matters most to you.

That’s why I use it as a metaphorical moniker: As a doctor, I mend physical eyes. As a coach, I help mend your internal one — so you can benefit from the power that clear, uncompromising insight into your own mental makeup will bring.

It’s different kind of vision. One that we all too often neglect to use, because we’re far too busy looking into the needs of others whilst our own go unchecked.

Time to Look Deeper

We all want to give our patients nothing but the best care. I think we can both agree it’s impossible to do so when depression, depersonalisation, cynicism, lack of confidence and all the other horrendous results of burnout begin to dig their claws in.

The strength to defeat them comes from within. Opening your third eye, and understanding how your thoughts and behaviours shape the world around you, will get you there.

Going back to the Medscape report I mentioned earlier, the top three causes of reported burnout were:

  • Too many bureaucratic tasks
  • Spending too many hours at work
  • Feeling like just a cog in a wheel

If you’re nodding eagerly at those three things, or starting to feel the effects of professional burnout — exhaustion, negativity, irritability, unhappiness and dissatisfaction, make sure you’re around for my webinar with Eurekadoc in early 2018, where I’ll give you an introduction to The Spirited Breakthrough, and you’ll leave with some strategies and activities you can implement straight away to bring your life back on track.

Because when you keep your third eye open, burnout doesn’t even get a look in.


Dr. Haidar Al-hakim is a London-based ophthalmic surgeon, international speaker, charity founder, hypnotherapist and physician burnout coach.

When he isn’t helping the public at home and abroad to overcome problems with their physical eyesight, you can find him coaching struggling medical professionals in how to regain control of their lives and stay stable, fulfilled, and in touch with their purpose.

Find out more at

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