'Study the well-being of your people': How to combat physician burnout

In an interactive session at the Becker's 11th CEO + CFO Roundtable moderated by Tammi Neukom of SCP Health, Bentley Tate, MD, SCP Health’s wellness advocate, discussed physician burnout. He said the assault on physicians' well-being often begins a decade before they start their first job and cited studies showing high levels of burnout and emotional distress among medical students and physicians. 

Dr. Tate suggested that healthcare systems find clinicians who have a calling to assist their colleagues and empower them. He also emphasized the importance of acknowledging the difficulty of the profession and providing a safe space for physicians to express their struggles. Dr. Tate concluded by sharing a personal story of a patient who thanked him for his help during her battle with leukemia, highlighting the effect physicians can have on patients' lives.

Key takeaways 

1. Clinician burnout has significant costs beyond turnover.

"I think what's beginning to come to the surface, and I think we're going to see a lot more of in the next few years, is that the clinicians who are costing you the most aren't the ones who have left but the ones still working for you, thanks in large part to decreased productivity," Dr. Tate said.

2. Clinician well-being should be studied and prioritized.

"In the battle, study the well-being of your people," Dr. Tate said "... Some wise people were thinking about it 2,500 years ago that people in the battle, you need to as leaders be aware and study and as best you can do something about their state of well-being."

3. C-Suite leaders can have a significant impact on clinician burnout.

"By giving their influence and financial support to address clinician well-being, executive leaders can help to realize the proven ROI" Dr. Tate said.

4. Creating a culture of support and open communication can help address clinician burnout.

"Maybe one of the most helpful things clinicians can do is just initiate here and there a conversation with one another to not necessarily problem solve, but just talk about it, and we're terrible at doing that," Dr. Tate said

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