This post was co-authored with David Brendel, a psychiatrist and executive coach who blogs at Leading Minds Executive Coaching. It appeared on KevinMD on April 9, 2018.
Physician burnout rates hover around 50 percent and the adverse consequences are serious. Burnout is associated with increased medical errors, suboptimal care, turnover, and personal costs, including substance use, depression, and suicide. The financial cost to healthcare organizations is significant: replacing a physician is estimated to cost at least $500,000. Plus, physician turnover results in care disruption, patient access issues, and lost revenue for hospitals to which the physician referred patients for specialist care and other services.
What fuels burnout? Contrary to popular belief, burnout is not due to personal weakness or increased susceptibility to stress. Professional burnout is a predictable response to stress in the workplace.
I recently wrote a guest post on the changing demographics of American physicians. I crafted it as an open letter to organizational leaders, who need to understand and respond to the shifting needs of these physicians if we are to have a healthy physician workforce in the years to come.
Dear Healthcare Leaders, Board Members, and Interested Others:
You may have noticed a recent trend in your human capital. If you haven't, here's the upshot: Your physician workforce is changing.
And to guide your organization, you'll need to understand those changes — and shift your priorities accordingly. As a physician and author dedicated to helping my clinician colleagues thrive, I'm here to help.
Here's how your workforce is evolving...
Read the rest of the post here!
When I speak to groups or write about physician burnout, I often hear back from clinicians who are thankful someone is validating their experiences. As one young physician wrote me:
“I went into medicine for the right reasons, but find myself, after only six years, approaching burnout. I felt like I would be a failure if I were to ever actually say [this] out loud … I feel frustrated by the lack of support from the administration."
Her email reflects the sentiment of too many physicians today who feel their organizational leaders simply do not care about the inefficiencies and systemic issues that are a major cause of the widespread burnout among clinicians.
Indeed, a new athenahealth survey of more than 1,000 practicing physicians found that physicians who gave low marks to the long-term leadership abilities of their administrators were more likely to report low confidence in their ability to do their job well and more likely to exhibit low levels of engagement — as defined by their willingness to go above and beyond in their jobs and to recommend and stay with their organizations.
Read more here.