Advocating for Physician Wellness

Running on Empty?: Physician’s Path to Enjoying Life and Medicine More

On January 25, 2017, Nance Goldstein, PhD, ACC, presented an MMS webinar that featured strategies to combat burnout and maintain wellness.


Physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals are at high risk for occupational distress and burnout. To better understand of the causes and context of burnout, and to explore methods of prevention, please review the resources below.

Contextualizing the Issue

Professional stress has always been particularly high among healthcare professionals, and the endemic of burnout has become especially pervasive in recent years.

Physician Burnout Graphic


Identifying Risk Factors

Extensive research pertaining to stress and the relation to professional burnout is being conducted around the nation, and researchers at Stanford and Mayo Clinic have determined several types of workplace burnout  that occur among healthcare providers.


Maintaining Wellness in Your Practice

Physician Icons 200 AMA – Steps Forward

Examples of wellness programs

Further resources

The Institute of Lifestyle Medicine


Coping with Burnout

Physician Health Services, an affiliate of the MMS, offers confidential consultation and a host of wellness resources for physicians struggling with stress, burnout, mental illness, and addiction. Referrals to PHS come from colleagues, family members, friends, or patients, and often from the affected physician. Each referral is treated individually, in a compassionate and confidential manner.

Physician Health Services
Telephone:
781-434-7404, or toll free at 800-322-2303, ext. 7404.
Ask to speak with the director, Dr. Steven Adelman.

Here are some other useful resources for coping with burnout:

Stanford WellMD: Stress and Burnout

NEJM Catalyst Video: Four Steps to Eliminating Physician Burnout

Journal of General Internal Medicine: Physician Burnout: Coaching a Way Out

Nance Goldstein, PhD, ACC: Working Wisely

Mayo Clinic: Executive Leadership and Physician Well-being: Nine Organizational Strategies to Promote Engagement and Reduce Burnout


Further Reading

NEJM Catalyst

The New England Journal of Medicine

National Academy of Medicine

  • Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-Being and Resilience
    • The National Academy of Medicine will build a collaborative platform for supporting and improving clinician well-being and resilience across multiple organizations, including clinician and consumer groups as well as health care organizations and policy making bodies. This “action collaborative” will provide the venue for a set of collaborative activities, grounded in evidence-based knowledge, to (1) assess and understand the underlying causes of clinician burnout and suicide, and (2) advance solutions that reverse the trends in clinician stress, burnout, and suicide. Activities of the collaborative will include working meetings among participating groups, public workshops, and stakeholder engagement activities.

Various Articles

  • Huffinton Post: Doctors in the Crosshairs
    • “Why do we ask the most highly trained people in the system to spend hours each day, inputting data? It’s because the other members of the team would have to be paid for the additional time, while doctors are not paid a penny for this. This extra time cuts into their ability to live a balanced life. It’s one of many reasons why more than 50% of American doctors are burned out, and why that number is rising rapidly.
  • The Atlantic: The Root of Physician Burnout
    • “Burnout is not a disease. It is a symptom…”
  • Forbes: The Story Behind Epidemic Doctor Burnout And Suicide Statistics 
    • "During Dr. X’s final year under the hospital system, administrators began instructing doctors to treat patients differently according to their insurance plans. “We would get emails that would say: ‘From here on out, anyone who has X, Y or Z health plan should be seen within twenty-four hours of their initial call.’” The administration continued enforcing new protocols, escalating frustrations among doctors until things reached a breaking point. “It was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Dr. X says of a meeting earlier in 2015…”
  • Time: Study - Doctors Are Burned Out by Busywork
    • “There’s no one cause for doctor burnout, but a new study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings has found a major one: the increasingly electronic nature of medicine. The digital parts of doctoring, like maintaining electronic health records, were linked to physician burnout…”

ScienceDaily: Aggregated studies on physician burnout

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