How Stanford plans to save physicians from burnout

Stanford (Calif.) Hospital's two-year "time-banking" pilot program, now implemented in its department of emergency medicine, has proved to increase physician job satisfaction, work-life balance, collegiality and retention rate, according to The Washington Post.

The program, which is designed to ease stress and burnout, allows physicians to earn credits for participating in work-related "extra-curriculars," such as mentoring, serving on committees or covering shifts on short notice, and these credits can be applied to at-home perks, according to the report.

These perks include services like housecleaning, babysitting, elder care, movie tickets, premade meal delivery services, grant writing help, dry cleaning pickup and more, according to the report.

The program has also increased the number of research grants physicians have applied for and evened the gender gap within these proposals. Studies have shown women faculty, though they spend the same number of hours working as male faculty, tend to spend more of their time at home juggling family demands and at work on mentoring and serving on committees rather than on research and other career opportunities, according to the report.

In fact, the time banking program got its start with former medical school dean Philip Pizzo, MD, who realized many female physicians miss out on research and other promotions because of family demands.

The $250,000 pilot increased physician and scientist satisfaction by 60 percent and helped participants submit research proposals with a higher success rate than the general Stanford faculty, according to the report. It also increased volunteering to cover shifts on short notice nearly two-fold and increased female faculty satisfaction — 57 percent of female participants said they felt Stanford supported their career development, compared to 29 percent before the pilot, according to the report.

"In my mind, this program is brilliant, and maintaining it was an easy decision," Paul Auerbach, MD, former chief of emergency medicine, told The Washington Post. "It's extremely cost-effective."


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