Addressing Doctor Burn-Out

Permanente Medical Groups recognize that the factors contributing to burn-out are complex and dynamic as are the actions needed to address this growing concern.

A study by the Mayo Clinic shows that from 2011 to 2014, physicians experiencing at least one symptom of burnout rose from 46 percent to 54 percent. Burn-out was especially noted in the field of emergency medicine, family medicine, general internal medicine, and neurology.

In a video, presented by Dr. Edward M. Ellison MD, Executive Medical Director and Chairman of the Board for the Southern California Permanente Medical Group and Chairman of the Board and CEO, for the Southeast Permanente Medical Group, discussed the underside to medicine that physicians don’t talk about which is burn-out.

According to Dr. Ellison, burn-out occurs because doctors feel that they have to be perfectionists which is an excellent quality, however, as perfectionists, doctors very often are discouraged from asking for help. They feel a loss of control, face being measured on everything they do, face a number of new complexities in their profession such as dealing with new medical technology, and often find it difficult to work in the corporate setting.

Dr. Ellison stressed the need to change the culture in the medical field. It is important to let physicians know that their wellness matters and we must work within the system to be advocates for change to stem the tide of burn-out. He summed up by saying, “We need healers and champions of health so we must help care for those that save lives by affirming the humanity of our doctors.”

To deal with the serious issues related to doctor burn-out, Permanente Medical Groups (PMG) of Kaiser Permanente just joined the National Academy of Medicine’s (NAM) “Collaborative on Clinician Well-being and Resilience” to work with healthcare organizations to help solve physician burn-out as a critical component of healthcare transformation in America.

The collaborative effort with 50 organizations has three goals that include understanding challenges facing the clinicians’ well-being, raising the visibility of clinician stress and burnout, and developing evidence-based multidisciplinary solutions to help doctors faced with this serious issue of doctor burn-out.

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