I recently had a physical due to an “unusual” EKG. This led to my meeting a new doctor – my cardiologist. After a stress test and sonogram of my heart it was determined that I am fine, and my EKG was within the normal range. Very good news.
Because this cardiologist is one of the best in his field, his Top Doc awards are in some part because of his thoroughness and genuine interest in his patient’s wellbeing. To obtain a total picture prior to making a diagnosis, he asked what I did. When I told him I was a coach working with individuals and executives, he asked me if I had worked with physicians who were dealing with burnout.
My cardiologist works for a major medical provider here in Northern VA. He shared that this topic had surfaced in one of their meetings. He went on to explain that there is a very strong commitment throughout the organization to provide the best medical care possible and physician burnout is seen as a threat to that commitment. We ended that visit with an agreement to explore the benefit and opportunity of addressing the physician burnout. This launched a new exploration into this significant issue.

First, we needed to know what is known. There are numerous articles regarding studies conducted for the various specialties and those who practice general medicine.

One article that caught my attention, was published in the US National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health. It is – Physician Burnout: Coaching a Way Out by Gail Gazelle, MD, Jane M. Liebschutz, MD, MPH, and Helen Riess, MD. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25527340

As a coach, I was drawn to this article as it referenced some of the tools I utilize. I assist my clients to recognize a better understanding of their current situation and to identify areas that they would like to change. Here are some interesting points made in the article:

• 25% to 60% of all physicians report burnout across all specialties.
• Over 50 % of the general internists surveyed in one study experienced burnout.
• Burnout contributes to decreased physician retention and correlates with self-reported suboptimal care, patient noncompliance, and medical errors.
• Professional coaching is making inroads within the medical profession to lessen burnout.

As a coach and a patient, I want my doctors to be at the top of their game when they treat me. This also piqued my curiosity about the root cause for physician burnout and what might be done to mitigate burnout in the first place.

I have started interviewing physicians with the intent of learning more about their world and what contributes to their stress. I will continue to share what I learn from those interviews.

Please join the discussion with insights or suggestions. You can use my website https://depcoaching.com/ or reach me via LinkedIn messenger.