The Overcomplicated Issue of Burnout


The Overcomplicated Issue of Burnout

Physician burnout is still the buzz term going around. Sure, there are others like “moral injury” but the point is the same. Doctors are unhappy in their jobs. Even worse, doctors know that others don’t really care about them. 

I recommend reading this article called Have We Overcomplicated The American Physician Burnout Conversation? The author talks about some of the causes of burnout like:

  • Being invisible in large organizations
  • Being called providers
  • Being employed by large organizations 
  • Clerical work

With the “Great Resignation” upon us, the author also gives his opinion about where we are headed and this is my favorite quote:

In the coming days, well-intentioned authors in prestigious academic journals will write well-reasoned articles about physician burnout. They’ll dissect the problem from every angle and offer prescriptions that include words like resilience and work-life balance and perform trials of interventions to reduce burn-out.

What they’ll ignore is the obvious.

In the era of “big healthcare,” physicians feel like they don’t matter.

He doesn’t have great answers for this. No one does but here is my advice as I am being called upon more and more to talk to big hospital systems:

  1. Happy doctors stay
  2. Happy doctors recruit other happy doctors making recruitment a non-issue
  3. Happy doctors make patients happy. 

So, how do you make doctors happy? Let me define physician happiness, as it relates to employed physicians, for you;

Feeling valued, doing meaningful work, and having meaningful relationships (with patients and coworkers).

To make physicians happy (which is the opposite of burnout) you need to make them feel valued and allow them to do that meaningful work in an environment where they have those meaningful relationships. There are ways to do this. All administrators just need to care enough to implement the right changes. It is not a perfect answer because the healthcare system is broken but it is a start. 

All this is in my book on Physician Retention and it is the reason why more and more companies are getting in touch with me.

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