Physician burnout is detrimental to individual physicians as well as entire healthcare organizations. According to the American Medical Association (AMA), physician burnout is a long term stress reaction experienced by working physicians that may include:
- Emotional exhaustion
- Feelings of decreased personal achievement
- Depersonalization of patients (negative attitudes and lack of empathy towards patients)
In 2018, the Mayo Clinic surveyed over 5,000 physicians and found that over 43% of them reported at least one symptom of burnout. So how can you prevent this from happening? Whether you are a physician yourself or you manage an organization, there are steps you can take to prevent it.
Strive for More Work-Life Balance
Doctors and other healthcare practitioners are trained and conditioned to overwork themselves. Their patients’ needs come first and their own needs get pushed to the bottom of the queue. While this work ethic is admirable, it can also be detrimental to patient satisfaction, organizational efficiency, and physician wellbeing. Take steps toward a healthier work-life balance that includes physical wellness, time with your family and friends, and mental self-care.
Limit Work Hours
This can be one of the most difficult steps to prevent physician burnout both for doctors and organizations. However, it is important to say “no” to extra hours and responsibilities that will put a strain on things and lead to burnout. It may be an adjustment at first, but limiting your working hours can help you achieve that elusive work-life balance we talked about before.
Embrace Teamwork & Workflow
Work with your colleagues to create a system of teamwork to improve workflow. Talk to your organization or practice leaders about creating workflows that distribute responsibilities so they are manageable for each member of the team. Don’t let too many things rest on the shoulders of one person (including yourself). Being able to rely on others to help you is an important part of avoiding burnout.
Create Meaning in Work
Sometimes practicing medicine can become repetitive and monotonous. If you do the same thing day in and day out, it’s easy to get burnt out. Think about whether there are changes you can make that will vary your routine a bit or focus on the aspects you currently enjoy. Also, Take time to connect with patients so you’re reminded of the importance of your work (even if it seems mundane).
For Practices and Organizations
Put Someone In Charge of Physician Wellness
To prevent physician burnout, you need to make physician wellness a priority. Assemble a team to champion wellness in the office. A committee should consist of physicians and other practitioners (DOs, NPs, PAs) as well as administrators, and other staff. If you have a small practice, then one member of staff can act as the wellness champion. A member of the wellness committee should be a liaison between the practice leaders to promote wellbeing. Responsibilities of the committee or individual should include:
- Modeling healthy behaviors like only working scheduled hours
- Listening to concerns
- Communicating with practice or organizational leaders about concerns & potential solutions
- Taking interventional steps to address concerns
- Conducting wellness surveys on an annual basis
Conduct Yearly Wellness Surveys
Before you can prevent physician burnout, you need to know what is causing it. And it needs to go beyond the obvious issues of long hours and repetitive work. To find out these details, giving physicians a wellness survey to identify pain points as well as what is already working for them. Input from the individuals experiencing burnout is valuable and it gives them a chance to feel heard.
Listen & Act
Listen to the concerns and issues physicians are having. This includes things gleaned through the wellness survey as well as things brought up to the wellness committee. Evaluate the problems that stick out and come up with changes that are possible on an organizational level. Then put those changes into actions and reevaluate in a few months to see if burnout has decreased and then make adjustments if necessary.
Make Physician Wellness a Quality Indicator
Use the results of your wellness surveys as a quality indicator for your practice. Physician burnout affects patients as well as doctors and practice staff. A burnt-out physician is not going to provide the same quality of care. So, factoring wellness into the equation of practice quality is a necessity.
Utilize Medical Transcription Services
To focus more on preventing physician burnout, you can take one thing off your plate by using Fast Chart for medical transcription. Keeping a trained and experienced transcriptionist on staff can be time consuming and expensive. Fast Chart provides accurate, cost-effective transcription services that are HIPAA compliant so you can focus your energy on things like the wellness of your physicians and staff. Call (919) 477-5152 to request a free quote.