If you are someone who follows important issues in healthcare, you probably know physician burnout is a major concern. There are a litany of concerns that physician burnout raises for individuals, teams, companies, families and communities. Physicians are significantly more likely than the general population to commit suicide. Those suffering burn out are more likely to inadvertently commit medical errors, a major problem in healthcare. Medical errors run the gamut from minor omissions or commissions with no serious outcome to very serious errors resulting in death or serious disability. My position is that not training physicians, executives and the medical team about burnout and resiliency, not calling it what it is, can be a major, life threatening error in strategy.
In many healthcare cultures, burnout is ignored. That is just wrong. If your organization falls into this category, please begin the process of developing a
resiliency plan for your organization whether your group is a small group, a single practitioner, or a major healthcare system. In most healthcare organizations and groups, there is a rising awareness of the critical importance of addressing burnout. Resiliency training, as part of a comprehensive employee development program is becoming more mainstream. Healthcare organizations are beginning to approximate solutions. Strategy should be systemic. When a burned out physician builds resiliency, but the system around him or her remains the same, one of two things will happen. Either the physician will return to the prior state of burnout or the physician will take their newly built resilient self and leave that group for an organization with a healthier corporate culture.
But resiliency is not a dirty word. If your providers are rolling their eyes at resiliency training, this is a terrific opportunity for powerful communication. Yes, your organization must create systemic solutions to prevent and treat burnout. Yes, administrators need to learn and practice effect ways of communicating to and articulating appreciation of physicians. However, when a physician is experiencing burnout, or sliding down that slippery slope, we are doing no favors to the physician, his or her family, the organization, patients, and communities when we tip toe around the subject, avoid naming it, and accept the eye roll as a cue to stop talking about it. Demons hide in the dark and are fleshed out when we turn on the light. Physician unrealistic self expectations, are as much of an issue as company demands of physicians. Resiliency is not a dirty word. Talk to your physicians. These are potentially lifesaving, and life affirming discussions. Physician resiliency is too important to ignore.