Stress and Burnout / Resilience
Stress, burnout and suicide rates among physicians and other healthcare providers are reaching alarming levels. One report claims that nearly two-thirds of U.S. physicians are burned out, depressed, or experiencing a combination of both. This is not only a disaster for providers' work life quality, it can lead to medical mistakes, patient safety issues, and lower quality of care for patients. It also creates problems for practice management and workforce scheduling given the turnover, absenteeism, and reduced productivity it causes.
This problem begins in medical school and requires a multi-dimensional response. According to the study's lead author and Mayo Clinic researcher Dr. Liselotte Dyrbye, "We need to sort of figure out ways to nurture empathy and to help trainees build their social support. But ultimately, the problem with burnout isn't because the medical student, or resident or physicians in practice is somehow defective in personal coping strategies—it is ultimately coming from the work and the learning environment, and that's really where attention should be focused in terms of strategies." (Modern Healthcare, Sept. 2018).
Potential Process Work — Design and implementation a wellness program, removing variation, defects, and inefficiencies in care processes that put unnecessary burden on providers; improved empanelment, scheduling and no-show management, more efficient means of completing clinical documentation and so on.
Potential Soft-Skill and Behavior-Change Interventions — Resilience, emotional intelligence, mindfulness, sleep, nutrition, social/peer support group and so on.
Stress and burnout are symptoms of deep and systemic problems in our healthcare system. Addressing them calls for approaches that combine leadership, process improvement, soft skill development, and wide-spread behavior changes.