Massachusetts Medical Society: Episode 13: Changing the System that Destroys Careers

Episode 13: Changing the System that Destroys Careers

Changing the System that Destroys Careers

Course Overview

The stresses and strains of medical practice burned out Dr. Diane Shannon to the point where she left clinical practice and reinvented herself as a medical writer. She shares her moving, cautionary tale with Marie Curious, explaining to her that medical practice was not what she had expected it to be. She found it to be so chaotic and stressful that it was taking a serious toll on her physical and emotional health. It also detracted from her capacity to sustain healthy relationships. Since leaving the practice of medicine, Diane’s research and writing have led her to the conclusion that her personal crisis had multiple causes: her inability to adequately handle pressure, stress and frustration at work; the lack of organizational support for her and other physicians; and, the bevy of system-wide regulations and requirements that have culminated in the dehumanization of the role of the physician. Diane believes that some leading edge organizations are instituting meaningful changes in processes, culture and leadership that are just beginning to move the needle on physician burnout. Diane gives Marie advice about having effective discussions with leaders and managers about the linkages between physician well-being, patient satisfaction, and organizational success.  She also shares some personal survival strategies with Marie, including informal peer-to-peer support groups.  

Learning Objectives

  • Reflect on medical writer Dr. Diane Shannon’s experience confronting the stress of practicing medicine in a poorly designed health care system, and, consider the pros and cons of her decision to save herself by leaving medical practice.
  • Describe the optimization of this system such that emotional supports for physicians and other health professionals were introduced in order to preserve their personal well-being and their careers.
  •  Paraphrase Dr. Shannon’s advice on how to hold effective discussions with leaders.   


Diane Shannon, MD
I’m a writer and change agent. I left clinical practice in 1996 because of burnout, but I never left health care. In the 20-odd years since I exchanged my stethoscope for a keyboard, I have focused on exposing the flaws in the health care system and highlighting the courageous innovators who are fixing problems and finding ways to better care for patients and those who care for them. I craft documents tailored directly to my clients’ needs: reports, white papers, articles, case studies, and blog posts for nonprofit foundations and consulting firms working to improve the care delivery system. I’ve won several awards for my work and recently co-authored Preventing Physician Burnout: Curing the Chaos and Returning Joy to the Practice of Medicine, which has been well-received by experts in the field.

I write, blog, speak, and consult, all in the service of improving health care. I remain, and will always be, a physician at heart.

Course Fees

Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS) Member: Free       
Non-MMS Member: Free       
Allied Health Professionals: Free



CME Credit

1.00 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™

Accreditation Statement

This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the accreditation requirements and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint providership of the Massachusetts Medical Society and Physician Health Services, Inc. The Massachusetts Medical Society is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians. 

AMA Credit Designation Statement

The Massachusetts Medical Society designates this enduring material for a maximum of 1.00 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™.  Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

This activity meets the criteria for the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine for risk management study.

National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).
Physician Assistants may claim a maximum of 1.00 Category 1 credit for completing this activity. NCCPA accepts AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ from organizations accredited by ACCME or a recognized state medical society.

Exam/Assessment: Please respond to the reflective statement at the end of the course to receive AMA PRA Category 1 Credits.

 MOC Approval Statement
Through the American Board of Medical Specialties ("ABMS") ongoing commitment to increase access to practice relevant Maintenance of Certification ("MOC") Activities through the ABMS Continuing Certification Directory, this activity has met the requirements as an MOC Part II CME Activity (apply toward general CME requirement) for the following ABMS Member Boards:

Allergy and Immunology
Family Medicine
Medical Genetics and Genomics
Nuclear Medicine
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Plastic Surgery
Preventive Medicine
Psychiatry & Neurology
Thoracic Surgery

Activity Term

Original Release Date: January 24, 2019        
Review Date: January 24, 2021           
Termination Date: January 24, 2022

System Requirements

Windows 10        
Mac OSX 10.6 higher

Most modern browsers including:   
IE 11+        
Firefox 18.0+  
Chrome latest version       
Safari 12+  
Flash player is required for some Online CME courses.
iOS devices beginning with OS version 5 or higher (includes, iPhone, iPad and iTouch devices)     

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