Category Archives: Doctor Burnout

Doctor Burnout: Part II

In response to the growing problem surrounding physician burnout–a national epidemic that impacts not only the health of medical practitioners, but also patient care–Stanford Medicine has hired a chief wellness officer.

In an unprecedented first move for a U.S. academic medical center, Tait Shanafelt, MD will lead Stanford Medicine’s pioneering program in the field. At a time when physician burnout “nationally has reached an all-time high,” Dr. Shanafelt will direct the WellMD Center at Stanford Medicine, while serving as associate dean.

Shanafelt has paved the field of wellness in medicine, overseeing multiple national surveys since 2008 that have included over 30,000 U.S. physicians, and 9,000 U.S. workers in other fields. The surveys have indicated increasing rates of burnout among doctors; in 2014, more than 50% of those surveyed were suffering from “emotional exhaustion, loss of meaning in work, or a sense of ineffectiveness and a lack of engagement with patients.” Shanafelt’s studies have confirmed that while physicians suffer, patients do also, as burnout leads to increased errors and increased rates of mortality among hospitalized patients.

Shanafelt has stated that the trend is “eroding the soul of medicine.” While many leaders in healthcare recognize that physician burnout is an imminent threat to their organizations, many do not know how to effectively address it. Shanafelt will work to build Stanford’s innovative WellMD Center, established in 2016, which has engaged more than 200 physicians through programs aimed at peer support, stress reduction, and a variety of ways to cultivate compassion and resilience. Furthermore, the center seeks to relieve some of the burden and pressure on physicians, through improving efficiency and simplifying workplace systems.

The conference will host the first American Conference on Physician Health in October, co-sponsored by the American Medical Association and the Mayo Clinic. This event will support opening up a national dialogue on the issue of physician burnout, while creating efforts to address physician distress through programs that promote “physician autonomy, efficiency, collegiality, and a sense of community.”

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Doctor Burnout

“In nothing do men more nearly approach the gods than in giving health to men.” —Cicero

The past year has seen a host of studies and articles releasing jarring statistics and anecdotes surrounding rates of physician ‘burnout’—commonly defined as a loss of enthusiasm and a low sense of accomplishment, coupled with feelings of exhaustion and ineffectiveness. The Archives of Internal Medicine conducted a 2012 study using a large sample of U.S. physicians from all specialty disciplines, and their findings depicted a gloomy picture of healthcare: not only were burnouts more common among physicians than other U.S. workers, physicians in specialties at the front line of care were also found to be at the greatest risk.

The 2015 Medscape Physician Lifestyle Report delivered similar findings, reporting that almost half of all physicians stated that they had experienced burnout. An analysis from researchers at the Mayo Clinic and the American Medical Association additionally indicated that doctors’ work-life balance is progressively worsening, further expressing that this “disturbing trend” could negatively impact patient care. Even more concerning is data reported in a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, which found that the rate of depression among doctors in training was much greater than the general population, and statistics published that showed nearly 55 percent of physicians surveyed experienced at least one symptom of burnout.

The significant and growing problem poses a direct threat to quality of patient care. There must be a collective shift in order to move towards an optimal system of healthcare in which physicians feel continuously motivated and passionate, and transition away from the current, traditional practices that inevitably lead to doctor burnout. Join us on our mission to reinvigorate physicians in healing their patients. Rediscover the passion you once felt. Learn new and innovative methods to prevent disease before it has taken hold. Our Fellowship in Metabolic and Nutritional Medicine will help you be the change.

Contact one of our Educational Advisors to learn more about the program at info@a4m.com, or 561-997-0112.

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