The issue of physician burnout and the toll it takes on productivity, loss of skilled physicians from the profession, and worst of all, suicide, is not new.
But it is getting worse. Have any of you felt it? I have.
And I distinctly remember the last time I saw a colleague who days later would commit suicide. It’s been more than 40 years, and I wonder still sometimes if something I would have said could have altered the path he chose to take.
We are overwhelmed. By change, the economics of current medicine, the demands and pressure from patients, insurers, lawyers and now our employers, who want more and more when we just want to do the best for our patients.
Some of us seek employment to escape the economic and personal burden of running a practice, only to find different pressures there, to be harangued about productivity, patient satisfaction scores, and different but nevertheless pressing administrative issues, while having our hands tied when offering to solve some of those problems.
Those clinging to private practice may find themselves shut out from more lucrative contracts with insurers who choose to negotiate only with larger groups or hospitals. Private practitioners may feel torn between two health systems vying for their exclusive attention. The ever increasing regulation of practices and changing reimbursement makes it impossible to plan ahead.
So what can we do? Get help.
Where can physicians turn for help? The Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) and the Foundation of the Pennsylvania Medical Society have many resources available to help physicians identify the symptoms of burnout, as well as coping strategies to alleviate burnout.
Through its Life of Medicine education series, PAMED and the Foundation of the Pennsylvania Medical Society offer a variety of webinars on the topics of burnout and resilience, including:
- Physician Burnout: Resolution and Restoration (CME webinar)
- Physician Resilience (Two-part CME webinar)
- Strategies for Addressing Physician Burnout (video of live session held at PAMED’s 2014 House of Delegates and Annual Education Conference)
An April 15 Modern Healthcare webinar — From Burnout to Engagement: Strategies to Promote Physician Wellness and Workplace Satisfaction — will feature experts in the field of physician burnout, including Dr. Colin West of the Mayo Clinic, and Dr. Michael Krasner of the University of Rochester.
The Physician’s Health Programs (PHP), a program of the Foundation of the Pennsylvania Medical Society, provides support and advocacy to physicians struggling with addiction or suffering from physical or mental challenges.
Just get help, it’s not a bad thing. If you find yourself wondering how you can work through another day, or considering whether there are others ways to make a living, get help! Our patients need us!