My co-author, Paul DeChant, MD, MBA, and I had the privilege of presenting a workshop at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Annual Forum in early December with Stephen Swensen, MD, medical director for Leadership and Organization Development at the Mayo Clinic.
I was so intrigued by the work that the Mayo Clinic is doing to prevent burnout and restore joy among the work force. I’ll mention here three of the strategies that Swensen described: one overarching approach and two more focused initiatives.
On the large scale, Mayo Clinic has focused intently on the quality of leadership throughout the organization. Every physician rates his or her direct supervisor on a 12-item scale, agreeing or disagreeing with statements such as “My supervisor empowers to do my job” and “My supervisor is interested in my opinion.”
Leaders who rank in the lowest tier are provided with additional leadership training. Those who remain in the lower ranks after training are removed from direct leadership responsibilities.
Why so much focus on leadership? Several reasons, according to Swensen, including the fact that Mayo Clinic research has demonstrated increased rates of burnout among physicians supervised by leaders who score lower on this metric.
The day after I participated in the Second Wingspread Summit on Preventing Physician Burnout in Jacksonville Florida, I was considering the high points of the event: connecting with others who are committed to understanding and addressing the problem, learning about courageous organizations that are testing ways to fix the root causes, hearing recently published evidence on what works.
As I drove my rental car the 140 miles to Orlando for the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Annual Forum, I thought about feedback that might help make the next summit that much more spectacular.
My only regret, I thought as I contemplated the flat, straight freeway down eastern coast of the Sunshine State, was that we didn’t have an opportunity for everyone to introduce themselves. Well, I thought, in a group of 3 dozen people, a minute or two each eats up a good chunk of time.
From there, I wondered what I would say if I were asked to introduce myself and explain my passion for addressing burnout—why the topic is so important to me—in as few words as possible.