The Battle Against Physician Burnout


Bureaucratic tasks, long work hours, and insufficient income are tough factors to handle in any occupation, much less in an occupation where someone’s life is at risk. These are all pieces that attribute to physicians losing their passion and enthusiasm while at work the Medscape Physician Lifestyle 2015 Report found. In addition, improvements to such factors are simply not going away. Hence, the 6% increase in burnout since 2013. Given the statistics, what are some steps that hospital management can take to deter such attributing factors?

One word, stress, is the most prevalent byproduct of the factors above; thus, it must be the key target for hospital management. The report emphasizes the importance of mindfulness towards physicians dealing with stress, as it “helps cultivate clear thinking, equanimity, compassion, and open-heartedness.” If hospital management grows mindful of physician’s problems or concerns, often corrections can be made prior to it attributing to burnout. Stopping problems before they occur keeps the physicians focused on what they love doing, which is helping their patients.

Keep in mind as well, that a work-life balance can often be hard to achieve as a physician. Scheduling plays an important role in this, and the existing platform in place should be analyzed constantly to track hard to manage schedules. Setting limits to certain degrees will often improve physician’s sense of well-being and productivity. This type of resiliency is needed in the operating room, as every minute lost in productivity is affects the broader spectrum of the hospital.

All in all, it is clear that steps like the ones described above are needed if hospitals want to reverse the burnout trend with their physicians. What are some steps your own hospital is taking to fight the battle of physician burnout? Are the steps alternative interventions (i.e. – massages, meditations, etc.) or organizational interventions (i.e. – scheduling adjustments, raises, etc.)? Nevertheless, some form of intervention is better than no intervention at all, especially when dealing with the cognitive/behavioral training of your physicians.