Physician viewpoint: Patient health depends on physician well-being

Physicians need to prioritize their well-being to improve quality of patient care, Maeve O’Connor, MD, allergist and immunologist with three practices in North Carolina, said in a Nov. 5 interview with Healio.

"Doctors need to realize that they’re people too and that they need to ask for help and use their resources," Dr. O'Connor said. "Normalize asking for help before you reach crisis mode."  

Dr. O'Connor said burnout can "cascade" throughout a healthcare setting and ultimately impact patient health. She said clinicians can identify burnout in themselves if they are experiencing emotional detachment or become physically ill without any identifiable cause.

Wellness efforts, however, can prevent burnout from occurring. 

Consistent and authentic communication is key to promoting well-being according to Dr. O'Connor. She has daily meetings at her practices and encourages staff to participate in order to ensure her practices are running efficiently.

"Health care providers need to embrace wellness for themselves, their team and their patients, and everyone will be better because of it," Dr. O'Connor said. "Instead of fighting burnout after it happens, prevent it. Practice wellness as preventive care."

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