How to Prevent Physician Burnout

How to Prevent Physician Burnout

Physicians today are experiencing higher than ever stress levels, which limits their ability to effectively care for their patients — or even themselves. In a recent Medscape survey, physicians from 27 specialties rated the severity of their burnout on a scale of one to seven. A score of “one” indicated that their stress levels didn’t interfere with their ability to provide care, while a score of “seven” indicated that it has caused them to consider leaving the profession. Every specialty, but one scored a four or higher.

Not surprisingly, the specialty with the highest score was Emergency Medicine, with nearly 60 percent of Emergency Department Physicians reporting feelings of burnout. That’s a 10 percent increase from 2013.

What Causes Burnout?

How has physician burnout become such a public health crisis? Some of the top reasons from the 2017 Medscape Lifestyle Report included:

  • Working long hours
  • Dealing with the frustrations of bureaucracy
  • Feeling like a cog in a machine
  • Increasing digitalization of the practice

Burnout isn’t just limited to physicians either. Nurses directly caring for patients in hospitals or nursing homes reported higher burnout than those in other job settings, such as the pharmaceutical industry. Those feelings of extreme stress have a trickle-down effect, impacting the quality, safety, and cost of healthcare.

Self-care Isn’t Selfish

The environment physicians work in plays a big role in their stress levels. Outcomes have become the single most important metric that a physician’s success is measured against. They’re expected to see a high volume of patients, make an accurate diagnosis in limited time, and do more with less. To achieve those results, physicians are cutting corners in their own self-care — working more hours on less sleep. In 2014, physicians worked 10 more hours each week than the general U.S. population (50 hours versus 40 hours), according a study by the American Medical Association and the Mayo Clinic.

However, the solution isn’t working longer or harder. It’s making the well-being of caregivers as high a priority as the patients they see. Think back to the last flight you took. In case of emergency, the flight attendant instructed you to put on your oxygen mask before helping others, right? There’s a good reason for that: You can’t help others if your own well-being is in danger.

Shifting from Job Performance to Human Performance

In theory, employees who are in good health take less sick days and, thus, are more productive and cost efficient. Healthy employees drive down collective healthcare costs. For that reason, many healthcare organizations invest in a wellness program that focuses on improving the physical health of employees. The only problem? This approach looks at employees as a liability, in terms of how much they cost the company, rather than an asset.

At ADURO, we believe that health is just one aspect of a person’s well-being. That’s why we’ve shifted the focus from “job performance” to “human performance,” the notion that a person performs their best when they lead a well-balanced lifestyle.

The four key elements of our Human Performance model include:

  • Health & Fitness
  • Money & Prosperity
  • Growth & Development
  • Contribution & Sustainability

Each of these elements is intertwined. If any one element is imbalanced, it has the potential to impact the others. Conversely, the more areas in which a person thrives, the more successful he or she will become. Strong individuals lead to strong companies.

Mercy Health, a large healthcare system, is a great example of this philosophy in action. The organization has been a client of ADURO’s for more than three years. It scored the highest of any organization we serve in every Key Performance Indicator, including productivity, well-being, and health.

How were they able to achieve these results? Mercy Health made the self-care of physicians, nurses, and all staff a priority. The organization offers its employees an outdoor walking path, fitness centers, and the “Be Well Within” program. The program was designed to support its employees (and spouses covered on a Mercy Health medical plan) on their journey to health and well-being — in mind, body, and spirit. Mercy Health’s leadership team understands that a happy, healthy workforce benefits providers, their families, their employers, and their patients.

And we know that you do, too.

It’s time for physicians, nurses, and clinical staff to receive the same level of care that they provide to patients. ADURO can help.

Discover how our Human Performance approach helps people overcome obstacles to reach their full potential.