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    How to avoid the corrosive effects of physician burnout


    Working conditions have become unsustainable, and the pressures on doctors are growing, says Linzer, who was also lead author of a 2014 article in the Journal of General Internal Medicine offering “Ten Bold Steps to Prevent Burnout in General Internal Medicine.”

    Burnout also costs the system money—especially when physicians decide they need to leave their positions. It can cost up to $250,000 to find a replacement.


    Related: Young doctors are jumping ship to non-clinical roles


    “I hear people say, ‘we can’t afford to deal with this.’ I say you have to listen and understand what’s hurting people. Preventing burnout in the long run will save the system money,” Linzer says.

    Physicians are increasingly demoralized and can no longer see their own professional strengths, says Gail Gazelle, MD, FACP, a hospice physician in Massachusetts who now coaches physicians on finding the resilience and proper work-life balance necessary to thrive in their careers. She uses a strengths-based approach to facilitated life and career coaching, done in 50- to 60-minute sessions in person or on the phone.

    Medical training is a very competitive process, Gazelle says. “More than 80% of physicians say they feel like imposters—comparing themselves to impossibly high standards,” she said.


    More from ME: Physicians bleeding money to report quality metrics


    Electronic health record implementation is another source of stress, along with completing documentation on time and the push for higher patient satisfaction scores. “Add the fear of malpractice, and it’s a perfect storm, with doctors feeling their working environment is out of control,” says Gazelle.

    Next: So what can be done about burnout?

    Larry Beresford
    Larry Beresford is a contributing author for Medical Economics.


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    • Anonymous
      The solutions given in this article are trivial and useless. The U.S. government with the assistance of the insurance industry have instituted rules and policies that have made private practice impossible for anyone who wants to practice honest, ethical, quality medicine. Outside of private practice, you become an employee of an entity(private or non-profit) where the goal is to get as much productivity out of you for the least amount of compensation and quality becomes secondary. This is the antithesis of why most people go into medicine.
    • Dr. Nancy Blake, MD
      I absolutely agree. I am a solo physician who opted out of all insurance, including Medicaid and Medicare. What a difference in my life! No billing, no rejected claims, I work under my terms. Physicians are terrified to do this, and I do not know why. Physicians are becoming less necessary over time as NPs and PAs pick up the work and we simply supervise. Physicians will complain, write letters, complain some more but NEVER will they, as a group, do anything about being a slave to insurance. If a physician accepts the terms of the insurance contract, they have no right to complain about working under that contract. Next time, reject their mind-numbing, soul-stealing contract and do the right thing. Work for your patient.

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