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    Long-term solutions for physician burnout

    Ten years ago, when Bridget Duffy, MD, presented a plan for work-life balance for physicians and nurses to alleviate burnout, it was scoffed at by the CEO of the health system. The executive told her that if doctors and nurses weren’t strong enough to deal with lack of work-life balance, they shouldn’t be working there.

     

    Blog: Why physician burnout happens and what we can do to prevent it

     

    Fast forward to today, and attitudes about physician burnout are changing, and for good reason, says Duffy, now the chief medical officer for Vocera Communications, a clinical communications provider. Physicans are more likely to commit suicide than a member of the general population and 73% of physicians would not recommend the profession to their children, according to the report, Physician burnout in America: A roadmap for restoring joy and purpose to medicine.

    “Physician burnout is often reported and talked about,” William Maples, MD, chief medical officer of Professional Research Consultants Inc. and one of the architects of the report, said in a statement. “However, until now, real solutions for addressing burnout have proven to be elusive—in part because physicians themselves haven’t been involved in developing or implementing them.”

    Duffy says that discussing burnout can be a touchy subject. The word “burnout” is often associated with weakness by physicians, and no one wants to be seen as not tough enough to do their job. But she says it’s time to change the attitude about burnout by taking a more clinical look at its causes and results.

    “I meet more and more physicians every day my age who want to quit, retire early, are burnt out and want to do something else,” Duffy says. “I think it’s a crisis in America today.”

     

    Blog: Physicians abused, ignored and silenced no more

     

    She says the investment in technology to find cost-savings and efficiencies in healthcare has been well-intentioned, but the one piece that has been overlooked is the condition of the workforce.

    Next: "It’s time to create a metric that measures physician well-being"

    Todd Shryock
    Todd Shryock, contributing author

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