Hope Cook, PA-C: Healing Burnout for Physician Assistants


In this interview, physician assistant Hope Cook described some of the major talking points from her conference talk titled ‘Healing PA Burnout.’

During her interview with HCPLive, Hope Cook, PA-C, a dermatology physician assistant from Georgia Skin Cancer & Aesthetic Dermatology, spoke on the biggest topics covered in her presentation titled ‘Healing PA Burnout.’

Cook works both as a PA and as a podcaster for a show called Recharting Your Life with Hope in which she helps women facing career uncertainty and burnout navigate their way out.

Her talk was given at the Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants (SDPA) 2023 Annual Summer Dermatology Conference.

“So I've been a PA since 2002,” Cook said. “I worked in internal medicine for 5 years, and then I switched over to dermatology. And I love dermatology. It's so tactile and you can see it and feel it. You know, back when I was listening to heart sounds and trying to peer into somebody's ear, or you just, you couldn't touch it and feel it. So that's why I love dermatology.”

Cook went into a discussion about burnout among PAs, a topic which she spoke extensively about in her presentation.

“Yeah, burnout has become almost a household term these days,” she explained. “I went through burnout for the first time in 2014. And I didn't really know what it was at first, I just knew that I didn't feel the same way about my job, my patients, it all shifted, but I didn't really know what was going on. So when I got asked to give a talk on burnout, I was excited, because a lot of talks focus on prevention. But I wanted to focus on how to treat burnout, the different tools that you can use.”

She went into her own experiences with burnout 5 years prior from her work as a PA.

“And that's what pushed me to take a life coaching course,” Cook stated. “And at the time, I was really embarrassed to tell anybody I was doing this. But I was surprised that there were doctors, dentists, lawyers, even a few other people who are in the group, because we all need tools to help us work through burnout is so prevalent. Now, there's the statistics for pas, at least as of last year, so 37% of PAs are burned out, and for physicians, it was even higher. 56% of female physicians are burned out.”

When she was asked about symptoms of burnout to look for, Cook explained a few.

“It includes depersonalization, a decreased sense of personal accomplishment, and just emotional exhaustion,” Cook stated, later noting that burnout can affect relationships, mental health, anxiety, insomnia, anger, and other physical manifestations.

“And we don't often realize it,” Cook said. “In my case, I was having migraines, like 3 times a week. Instead of looking at the root cause, I'm seeing specialists and trying all different sorts of medicines. And in relationships, if you're burned out, you are depleted, and you don't really have anything left over for your kids or your spouse.”

To learn more about Cook’s conference talk, view the full interview with HCPLive above.

The quotes included in this interview were edited in this description for clarity.

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