It was 15 minutes before the start of the class.  The training center was located within the same complex as the hospital.  Given that it was an EMR class exclusively for Surgeons, and it was starting at 8:30am, I hurried to start the coffee pot.  I had conducted this two-day class,  multiple times over the course of 5 weeks.  Therefore, I was comfortable with the content and knew there would be late arrivals coming directly from the surgery.  

I returned to my classroom with my cup of freshly brewed coffee (hazelnut) and almost collided with one of the surgeon attendees.  After the usual verbal pleasantries and signing the roster, he walked to the instructor’s desk to speak with me privately – out of earshot of the other surgeons mingling before class started.

He indicated that he had just finished surgery and was exhausted.  He uses the EMR software at another hospital and was quite comfortable navigating in the system locating the necessary patient information he needed.  As a result, would it be possible to just complete his assessment and skip the rest of the class?  After, he had just completed surgery and was exhausted.  

Frankly, he wasn’t sure he could sit through an 8-hour class today, let alone return tomorrow for 4 additional hours.

I understand exhaustion.  Although I don’t have the life and death responsibilities of a surgeon, as a road warrior with an average of 15 hours/week commute – I understand exhaustion.  The bone-numbing moment when you can’t hold your head up another moment and wish that everyone would simply take a moment of silence – just a moment.  

Exhaustion at home can be addressed.  You can quietly retreat to take a quick shower, or to your favorite chair and let the TV watch you for a change.

However, exhaustion in the workplace can impact:

  • the ability to make decisions
  • the quality of communication within your peers
  • the methods and speed that assigned tasks are completed.

In fact, the article entitled,  “The Costs and Consequences of Workplace Exhaustion“,  suggests that employees who are physically exhausted can result in difficult work attitudes and behavior issues at work.

  • How many times have you attended a workplace training class or participated in a virtual class after an already exhaustive day?
  • How much did you really listen?
  • How much learning actually occurred?
  • Were you able to complete the new skills learned a day or even a week later without referring to the quick reference guides or notes taken during class?


Dr. David Ballard, head of the APA’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program, in an article entitled “10 Signs You’re Burning Out — And What To Do About It“, describes exhaustion as being tired all the time and not having any energy.

Over the course of 20+ years as a corporate trainer, and training manager, I have observed nodding attendees whose jobs depended upon successfully completed a training course with hands-on exercises and assessments.

One participant in a Wealth Management financial management class leaned back so far in his chair while “nodding off” that he and the chair flipped backward.  Another participant in a Mortgage Underwriter class slept several hours daily in a 5-day class.  However, we were not allowed to awaken the participant due to a known medical condition and privacy concerns.  Ultimately, the sleeping participant passed the assessment with very high scores despite sleeping through class!

The EMR class for Surgeons class started on time, and continued with all 15+ surgeons present and continued for the scheduled  1.5 days.  The primary focus was documenting patient care in physician notes and highlighting procedures addressing patient safety.  Everyone successfully passed the course assessment and gained the systems access for the new EMR software. 

Hopefully, having learned a tool to improve access to needed patient information and improve the ability to document each surgeon’s finding.  Ideally,  each surgeon would be able to spend fewer hours dictating physician notes.  

In a perfect environment, that would translate to more available patient face-time and more time resting, thus feeling energized – not exhausted.

Our co-workers would appreciate the productive and energized version of ourselves.


Benefits | Workplace Counseling

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