The Need for Physician Burnout and Resilience Assessment
There is a myth that physicians who endured medical residency can endure anything. There is a similar myth that healthcare administrators can overlook anything. Consider these facts:
- Burnout is higher among physicians than for any other professionals.
- Burnout is higher for women than for men; varies by specialty; and varies by career phase.
- Burnout can be defined as the degree of emotional exhaustion, de-personalization, and self-efficacy at work. As one MD told me, “I just don’t have the energy to get up and do what I know I am supposed to do…”
- Clinicians often tell me that they wish for a helping hand “on their shoulder.” In my consulting experience, we all can provide care for the care-givers.
Since the days of Hippocrates, physicians and nurses have been taught to ask others, “How are you feeling?” Some physicians and nurses will state, in confidential moments, that they are feeling depressed, overwhelmed, unexcited about providing care to others, unable to pay their lingering $150,000 residency debts or
to save $250,000 for their children to attend a great college. Part of the conflict is that physicians have always been taught to “heal thyself.” As if healing is an easy process.
My question today is “Who takes care of the care-givers?”
You may be reading this article because you are concerned about a physician, or yourself, or your practice group.
Consider these findings from a 2013 survey: 40% of physicians admit regular self- medication (drugs of choice range from alcohol to amphetamines). 15% of physicians have admitted to feelings of suicidal ideation in the last 24 months. Virtually 100% of physicians have experienced burnout at some point in their careers. Some of my clients tell me that they appreciate the AA
or Narcotics Anonymous meetings in their hospitals. But they may choose to attend AA somewhere else.
So what are you going to do?
Thankfully, resiliency can be taught and developed. Resiliency can be defined as “the capacity to adapt successfully in the presence of risk and adversity.” Examples of developing resiliency abound, from the U.S. military to the British National healthcare system. Note that burnout and resiliency are directly related and inversely related. Just like any coin with two sides.
Take a moment to write down where you think you are on a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high) on burnout. Then do the same on resiliency.
1. A self- diagnostic question is “How do you know if you are avoiding burnout behaviors?”
2. An organizational- diagnostic question is to ask your team if they have noticed you being less compassionate, hopeful and caring lately?
Or if you are daring, ask your team if they have noticed you being more abrupt, judgmental, or impatient lately?
Amid our current culture of healthcare reform and continued changes in care, there is no more important investment than providing care to our care-givers.
1. Share this article with someone you care
2. Take the self-assessment described above 3. Schedule a complimentary session for someone who may be at risk of burnout
Doug Gray is the CEO and Founder of Action Learning Associates, Inc. a company that helps healthcare leaders develop resilience. Since 1997 the company has helped hundreds of individuals and organizations develop the strengths, competencies and weaknesses. They then provide confidential customized consulting. For detailed assessments, digital downloads, or to schedule your confidential, complimentary initial consultation, visit www.action-learning.com or call 704-995-6647 today.
Action Learning Associates, Inc. is a PAHCOM Corporate Member Since 2015
Dyrbye, L. N., Varkey, P., Boone, S. L., Satele, D. V., Sloan, J. A., & Shanafelt, T. D. (2013). Physician satisfaction and burnout at different career stages. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, (88)12, 1358-67.
Scudder, L. & Shanafelt, T.D. (2015). Two sides of the physician coin: Burnout and well- being. Medscape.