There are 2 excellent articles in the December 2015 issue of Mayo Clinical Proceedings about physician burnout.
The first article reports on results from a physician burnout survey by Dr. Tait Shanafelt et al entitled, “Changes in Burnout and Satisfaction with Work-Life Balance in Physicians and the General US Working Population Between 2011 and 2014.”
The second article is a commentary on the state of physician burnout based on the results of the above study, is written by Dr. Dan Ariely and Dr. William Lanier and is entitled, “Disturbing Trends in Physician Burnout and Satisfaction with Work-Life Balance: Dealing with Malady Among the Nation’s Healers.”
These articles report:
- 54% of surveyed doctors report at least one symptom of burnout.
- Only 41% of surveyed doctors are satisfied with their work-life balance.
- 40% of surveyed doctors report being depressed.
- 1 in 16 surveyed doctors report having suicidal thoughts in the previous year.
Just horrible. I feel bad for my fellow physicians AND their patients.
The articles go on to discuss how patients of burned out, depressed physicians have worse outcomes and are less compliant with physician care plans.
Fixing this problem is a large undertaking and beyond the scope of this blog post.
However, what I do want to emphasize here is that a ‘dysfunctional emotional state’ in a physician is VERY common. Given the above statistics, it’s essentially a 50/50 bet that the doctor you see is ‘emotionally bad-off’ and that emotional state will affect your care.
The best advice I can give to employee benefits professionals and employees on the health plans that they manage is find the ‘emotionally well-off’ physicians. How would one do that? I would say it is most exhibited in their bedside manner. In my experience, I have encountered very few burned out and depressed physicians that have a friendly, understanding bedside manner. To learn more about how to best go about finding a great physician with great bedside manner, check out one of my previous posts on the topic, “4 Questions That Will Help You Find the Right Physician.”
Compass pre-screens physicians bedside manner by surveying their office staff. While not a perfect proxy for actual bedside manner, we have found that the office staffs are often very forthcoming on how their doctor treats patients at the bedside.
To learn more about Compass and our services for 2,000+ employer clients including Dillard’s and Southwest Airlines, visit compassphs.com