Burnout in the News2018-01-14T08:39:05+00:00
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Stemming the Physician Burnout Tide by Helping Medical Students

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, an estimated 300 to 400 physicians commit suicide each year– about one physician per day.  Training for medical students presently involves multiple risk factors for mental illness, including decreased sleep, relocation resulting in fewer available support systems, and feelings of isolation.  An article for JAMA Psychiatrycalls for a national response to this issue and offers guidelines on appropriate education, screening, and treatment.  The first steps would be to educate the academic community concerning these issues, and to foster help-seeking behaviors and access to care for all trainees.  Next, a national commitment is recommended to support residents and fellows during their training.  This can help ensure the well-being of future generations of physicians and their patients, the article concludes.

Meditation Helps Provide Relief From Anxiety, Pain, Depression

Meditation is helpful for relieving anxiety, pain, and depression, according to a systematic research review published in JAMA Internal Medicine. The review reported a small to moderate effect of mindfulness and mantra meditation techniques in reducing emotional symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, and stress, and improving physical symptoms, such as pain. For depression, meditation was about as effective as an antidepressant.

Burnout Rates Rise

A 2017 AMA Medscape Lifestyle Report asked physicians from 27 medical specialties to grade the severity of their burnout on a scale of 1 to 7—one being that it does not interfere, and seven indicating thoughts of leaving medicine.  All but one specialty chose a level four or higher.  Emergency medicine was most affected—with nearly 60 percent saying they feel burned out (up from half in 2013).  More than 14,000 physicians surveyed named the following four concerns as the top causes of burnout: too many bureaucratic tasks, spending too many hours at work, feeling like just a cog in a wheel, increased computerization of practice.

A Sense of Calling

A study carried out by the Mayo Clinic, of internal and external factors that keep physicians motivated and prevent burnout shows that having a personal sense of calling or a deep commitment to medicine is a key factor in physicians’ well-being.  The study also found that extrinsic incentives, such as increased salary, are less meaningful.  According to lead researcher, Audiey C. Kao, MD PhD, “If the practice of medicine is not seen as work that is personally rewarding and serving a greater good, physician performance may suffer and, more importantly, so too  may the quality of care that patients receive.”

Taking Care of the Physician

According to a November 2017 New York Times article, a growing body of research shows that physician burnout and depression are linked to medical errors and to the kind of depersonalized care that is often both less effective and less palatable.

Easing Physician Burnout

Meditation can reverse physician burnout, according to a study published in the September/October 2013 Annals of Family Medicine. Dr. Mary Catherine Beach of Johns Hopkins states, “This study supports meditation as a way to improve the health of both doctors and their patients. Meditation helps doctors listen better, talk less, and see clearer what patients need.”

Docs vs. the Public

The American Medical Association and the Mayo Clinic recently conducted a study to determine how physician burnout differs from burnout in the general working population. The study, published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, found that compared with the general U.S. population, physicians worked a median of 10 hours more per week, displayed higher rates of emotional exhaustion and reported lower satisfaction with work/life balance. Though the general population does experience burnout, the changing state of the healthcare system is clearly driving the dramatic increases in physician burnout.

10th Annual Physicians’ CME Conference

Rediscover your Love of Medicine and Life!

October 23 – 27, 2018

A Unique Curriculum of Practical Meditation Tools to Help: Relieve Physician Burnout and Stress • Support the Treatment of Chronic Pain and Addiction • Promote Optimal Health and Resilience

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Are You Experiencing Burnout?

A 2017 AMA Medscape Lifestyle Report asked physicians from 27 medical specialties to grade the severity of their burnout on a scale of 1 to 7—one being that it does not interfere, and seven indicating thoughts of leaving medicine. All but one specialty chose a level four or higher. Are you experiencing Physician Burnout symptoms?

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