Physician Burnout

In a recent article in MedPage Today, David Nash, MD, MBA spoke about physician burnout – a serious issue facing a growing number of physicians.

The statistics are alarming – more than 50% of all doctors claim they have experienced burnout with approximately 1 in 5 reporting they plan on working less in the new year. In the past two years, 1 in 50 physicians have quit practicing medicine altogether.

Dr. Nash notes that burnout can lead to a variety of serious problems including decreased safety, malpractice claims, substance abuse and even an increased risk of suicide. His solution — a multi-pronged approach that includes “many dimensions of wellness, from the occupational, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and social.”

“Factors known to contribute to burnout in the workplace including loss of control and flexibility, inefficient processes like over-reliance on the electronic medical record, poor work life integration, frustration with insurance-related issues, and of course, declining reimbursement for clinical care,” said Dr. Nash.

What can be done to address this growing problem? According to Dr. Nash, “… we can start by monitoring physician well-being with a big focus on prevention.” This includes a focus on things like:

• Paying attention to sleep, exercise, nutrition
• Taking appropriate vacations
• Getting reconnected with the community
• Promoting self-awareness and resilience activities with mindfulness training
• A proactive annual check-up
• Appropriate counseling
• Minimizing the stigma and barriers for those who are seeking help

Dr. Nash also notes that the physician community should pay special attention to the work environment because a workforce facing burnout could mean the healthcare system is causing harm.

According to Nash, “We should look at models of health system science that make our daily work more efficient without burning out staff. We should support research that looks into promoting clinician well-being, and we should educate the leadership of health systems. After all, that’s where most doctors work. We should educate the leaders about physician burnout to make sure that they support workplace wellness for clinicians at all levels.”

Physician Retraining and Reentry (PRR)provides a solution for physicians experiencing burnout by providing an opportunity to switch their current focus to full or part-time positions in adult outpatient primary care. Since 2013, PRR has helped a wide variety of medically licensed physicians in good standing either return to the clinic, switch focuses or add primary care to their current practices. To learn more, schedule a consultation by calling (858) 240-4878or emailing admin@prrprogram.com.