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There are many rewards that come with being a physician.  However, there is also a tremendous amount of stress.  In fact, physician burnout is occurring at a significantly high rate.  And it’s no wonder — with long hours, countless administrative responsibilities, and time-crunched appointments, physicians experience endless demands that can sometimes take the pleasure out of practicing.  By making some changes this year in your life and medical practice, you can prevent burnout from getting the best of you.

The Negative Impact of Physician Burnout

According to an online survey conducted by Medscape News, 44% of physicians experienced burnout last year.  An additional 15% experienced a form of depression.  Although burnout was reported across multiple specialties, family medicine accounted for one of the highest rates, at 48%. [1]  These alarming statistics have caused 92% of clinicians to refer to burnout as “a public health crisis that demands urgent action.” [2]

There are many factors that physicians reported as contributing to burnout.  Having to devote time to “bureaucratic tasks” such as charting and paperwork was cited by 59% of respondents as being the biggest contributor.  Spending too many hours at work came in as the second biggest contributing factor at 34%. [3]

Physician burnout can adversely affect your health and wellbeing.  In addition, it can negatively impact your practice.  Not only does it place physicians at greater risk for suicide, as well as drug and alcohol abuse, those experiencing burnout have a decrease in patient satisfaction and a higher risk of medical error and malpractice. [4]

Identifying Physician Burnout

If you are feeling stressed, exhausted, and begin to feel bored or detached from your practice, you may be experiencing physician burnout.  It’s important to be able to address the source of your burnout to make the changes you need to put the passion back into your practice.

Burnout and its causes can be complex.  According to an article published in the Harvard Business Review, physician burnout is rooted in both the inherent and external stresses that are intertwined with the rewards of practicing medicine.  For example, the stresses that are inherent for physicians are those that arise from caring for patients and constantly witnessing suffering.  External stresses are those related to the work environment such as office culture, resources, and management.  Being aware of this framework can help doctors distinguish the source of their stress to effectively manage it. [5]

Combatting Physician Burnout

It’s important to realize you’re not alone.  Tait Shanafelt, director of the Program on Physician Well-Being and professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic suggests building connections with colleagues is one of the keys to avoiding burnout.  In addition, he notes that 80% of the solution lies at the system level.  Physicians can thrive when they have a sense of control over their own work and schedule, and have opportunities for growth.  Shanafelt observed that physicians felt more job satisfaction with increased communication and support from department leaders. [6]

Despite the impact it can have on quality of patient care and the toll it takes on physicians, burnout goes largely unaddressed in many workplaces.  47% of clinicians surveyed answered that burnout is “rarely or never discussed.”  Another 26% reported it was only “occasionally discussed.” [7]

In addition to making changes in the workplace, physicians who are experiencing burnout should also be mindful of their own wellness. Focusing on self-care and adopting stress-reduction techniques can be largely beneficial.  In taking better care of themselves, physicians are also putting themselves in a better position to care for their patients.

Avoiding Physician Burnout With a Concierge Model

Each year, more doctors are making the change to concierge medicine.  A concierge practice can help physicians maintain work-life balance and get more satisfaction out of their practice.  By making the transition, physicians are able to take on fewer patients and develop better relationships with those they have. Physicians also benefit from professional autonomy while keeping costs down and increasing revenue.

Learn more about how CCPHP can help you build a concierge practice and avoid physician burnout by filling out the form below.

[1] Sara Berg (January 24, 2019). Physician burnout: which medical specialties feel it the most. American Medical Association.  Retrieved from https://www.ama-assn.org/practice-management/physician-health/physician-burnout-which-medical-specialties-feel-most-stress

[2] No author. (December 19, 2019). Clinician Burnout in Healthcare: A Report for Healthcare Leaders. Spok.com Retrieved from https://www.spok.com/blog/physician-burnout-survey

[3] Advisory Board Daily Briefing (January 18, 2019). Physician burnout in 2019, charted.  Advisory Board. Retrieved from https://www.advisory.com/daily-briefing/2019/01/18/burnout-report

[4] Dike Drummond, MD (September-October 2015). Physician Burnout: Its Origins, Symptoms, and Five Main Causes. Family Practice Management. Retrieved from  https://www.aafp.org/fpm/2015/0900/p42.html#fpm20150900p42-b8

[5] Deirdre E. Mylod (October 12, 2017). One Way to prevent Physician Burnout. Harvard Business Review.  Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2017/10/one-way-to-prevent-physician-burnout

[6] No author. (March 27, 2017). Tips for Tackling Physician Burnout. John Hopkins Medicine. Retrieved from  https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/office-of-johns-hopkins-physicians/best-practice-news/tips-for-tackling-physician-burnout

[7] No author. (December 19, 2019). Clinician Burnout in Healthcare: A Report for Healthcare Leaders. Spok.com Retrieved from https://www.spok.com/blog/physician-burnout-survey