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Combating Physician Burnout

Combating Physician Burnout

More than half of physicians feel “burned out” due to the never-ending list of mandates and unrelenting pace of change in today’s health care world. With physician burnout reaching epidemic levels, it has also become a top priority for health care executives because of its very real effects on patient experience, quality, and cost.

This research briefing includes five insights to help organizations better understand physician burnout and to mitigate further detriment to their physicians, patients, and business.

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1. Recognize it might not be who you think

You can't identify burnout by demographics alone. Simply looking at a physician isn't enough to assess if he or she is burned out, and categories like gender, tenure, and engagement level aren't good predictors, either.

Learn why it's dangerous to assume that individual or organizational characteristics predict burnout (p. 5).

2. Be prepared to listen

Your first "to-do" to combat burnout? Listen to your physicians. On the surface, a physician may be doing his or her job—but burnout can be hiding in plain sight.

Find out why you can't always see burnout and three ways to effectively listen to your physicians (p. 6).

3. Give your physicians a choice in operational initiatives

With an ever-expanding list of organizational priorities, the medical group asks a lot of physicians. At the same time, physicians don’t always have a concrete decision-making role—so wherever possible, put control back in their hands.

Make sure to think through how changes might affect physicians as people, and learn how to involve your physicians in operational objectives (p. 10).

4. Even the score—balance negative and positive feedback

"I don't feel valued. All I hear is negative feedback." This is how frontline physicians responded when asked to share the feedback they receive.

Learn the three problems with typical physician feedback, and how to put it into perspective (p. 13).

5. Don’t forget to offer emotional support

The practice of medicine has always been a tough job, both physically and emotionally. By providing physicians with the emotional support they need, medical groups can help reduce the risk of burnout.

Learn how to offer emotional support to your providers, with tips from Stanford's Physician Art and Communications Series (p. 16).

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