Here’s a disquieting statistic: according to a 2012 study by the Physician’s Foundation, 60% of physicians in the United States said they would immediately retire if they “had the means.” That’s the dire state of clinician burnout about which Dike Drummond, MD, warns us on his website, TheHappyMD.com. His is one of many unique perspectives on the burnout epidemic, and in this article, we’re going to outline what he offers as a solution. Metro Collaborative™ sees dialogue as the only way to beat physician burnout — let us know what you think of Dr. Drummond’s perspective.
3 Elements of Burnout
Dr. Drummond starts by blaming clinician burnout on “the development of a negative balance in your energetic bank accounts.” As he sees it, burnout is the gradual erosion of your sense of wellbeing, driven by three types of overexertion:
- Physical: daily exhaustion
- Emotional: depersonalization and compassion fatigue (see our article on that topic for more)
- Spiritual: loss of efficacy, or the doubt that you can really make a difference.
Personal & Organizational Issues
As Dr. Drummond sees it, clinicians aren’t educated early enough on how to manage their burnout. “We are notorious,” he writes, “for not getting our own needs met and leading unbalanced lives.” This tendency might owe to the difficult path that makes one a clinician: he recalls being trained simply to survive his residency training rather than truly live with it.
Meanwhile, clinics don’t do enough as workplaces. Their clunky, arcane administrative systems rob clinicians’ senses of efficacy. They fail to understand that their professionals are running on empty and not having their needs met.
Rethinking & Recharging
Clinicians and clinics must work together to both preserve and recharge their energy.
Dr. Drummond advises clinicians to treat themselves well through mindfulness-based stress relief, journaling, and regular self-praise. They must also give themselves time to recharge by scheduling and investing time in relationships, hobbies, and spontaneity.
Clinics, meanwhile, must facilitate open and constant dialogue between all levels of the organization and prioritize clinicians’ wellness and satisfaction at the leadership level. Systemic changes such as normalizing work-life balance and eliminating the stigma against asking for support will likely be necessary.
It’s doubtful that clinician burnout has any one answer. Dr. Drummond, however, has certainly done his part in bringing the discussion forward. What do you think of his perspective?
Discuss important issues such as clinician burnout with healthcare leaders across the Eastern Seaboard. Metro Collaborative™ hosts regular dinners and leadership retreats aimed at solving these problems and creating powerful referral networks. Call them at (212) 777-8949 today or visit their website to find an event near you.