Burnout—What Can We Do to Combat Burnout? (Part II)

Curbside ConsultsTouches logo

Burnout—What Can We Do to Combat Burnout? (Part II)

Burnout needs to be addressed jointly—both at the institutional and the individual level. Leaders need to be chosen who can work with the system and the physicians to promote engagement and wellness. Included are some ideas for both parties to work on.

We can ask for and/or help our institution and/or employer to:
1. Focus on improving efficiency and support in the practice environment.
2. Select leaders that focus on physician engagement.
3. Help physicians optimize their “career fit.”
4. Create an environment that nurtures community, flexibility, and control as these help to cultivate meaning in work.
5. Develop a good mentorship program.

What we can do individually:
1. Identify personal and professional values and consider how to best prioritize them.
a.    Requires self-awareness, limit setting, and reframing.

2. Practice mindfulness which requires intentionality in thoughts and actions.
3. Attention to self-care, developing personal interests and hobbies, getting regular exercise, and protecting and nurturing personal and professional relationships.
4. Engage with administration and physician leaders to help them with the tasks outlined above.

Kim Furry, MD
[email protected]


Ariely, DN and Lanier, W. Disturbing trends in physician burnout and satisfaction with work-life balance: dealing with malady among the nation’s healers. Mayo Clin Proc. Dec 2015;90(12):1593-1596.

Shanafelt, TD, et al. Changes in burnout and satisfaction with work-life balance in physician and the general US working population between 2011 and 2014. Mayo Clin Proc. Dec 2015;90(12):1600-1613.

Shanafelt, TD and Noseworthy, JH. Executive leadership and physician well-being: Nine organizational strategies to promote engagement and reduce burnout. Mayo Clin Proc. 2016;92(1):129-146.

Daniels AH, DePasse JM, and Kamal RN.  Orthopaedic surgeon burnout: diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. JAAOS. 2016;24(4):213-219.


DISCLAIMER: Statements of fact and opinion are the responsibility of the authors alone and do not imply an opinion or endorsement on the part of the officers or the members of WOA unless such opinion or endorsement is specifically stated. Materials may be reproduced only if Touches and the Western Orthopaedic Association are credited.

Share this post:

Comments on "Burnout—What Can We Do to Combat Burnout? (Part II)"

Comments 0-5 of 3

Dr. Kim Furry - Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Thank you Jeff and Bob for your interest. I really am pleased that it has stimulated some thought and further discussion. Burnout is a real issue and contributes significantly to the physician shortage. There are many things that can be done to help mitigate this. True, we need to engage physicians and patients. Patients need to be engaged in their care and the decision making process. The “leaders” that I refer to come from both the admin and physician side. We need groups of people that are willing to work together for the good of all. This can be difficult when there are competing interests of the hospital vs private docs. It can still be difficult when docs are employed by the hospital. The goal for all is happy well-balanced physicians and great care for patients—admin and docs often bring different views on how these are best accomplished. When we can all sit at the same table and come to an agreeable solution, everyone wins. Admin needs to work with docs and allow them a true voice at the table. This helps with engagement. There absolutely needs to be TRUST between each other in order for this to work, and in order to have the trust, there needs to be transparency. That is VERY difficult for admin to give up. Engagement, for me, goes beyond this as well. How do we as leaders get our colleagues to attend med staff meeting (as Chief of Staff I struggle with this), create social events for families that the docs and APPs want to attend to interact with admin and colleagues in a fun, non-stressed environment. How do these not become another “I have to attend” event and a burden vs a “I want to attend because it is fun and I get to know my colleagues and their families” event? i.e. How do we engage with each other? Not always an easy answer and certainly not a one size fits all. Another form of engagement happens when we can improve the ease of practice for docs, i.e. improve efficiencies as we transition to new EHRs, or any other number of ways. Finally, it is obviously an interest of mine and has become a big part of my “WHY”, why I do what I do. If I can have an influence such that working and home life are better for even 10 docs, 10 docs x 20+ patients/day  >200 patients in a day and the 10 docs that have a better experience. That is far more than I can do seeing my 20+ pts in a day. If you don’t understand my “Why” reference, I would encourage you to check out Simon Sinek’s TED Talk (https://www.ted.com/talks/simon\_sinek\_how\_great\_leaders\_inspire\_action) and his book “Start with Why”. Sorry about the length of my response, but it is a fascinating topic, and it was difficult to keep the Touch under 200 words.

Dr. Jeffrey Smith - Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Hey Bob and Kim, Agree. Great topic! My impression is that physician engagement is when the focus is on both the physicians and the patients doing well. When everyone feels that they have the ability to play a roll in the process and the decision-making then they will be engaged or INVOLVED. The process also requires the building of TRUST. Unfortunately, too many physicians feel betrayed directly and through their patients. I know this engagement and leadership is possible to nurture.

Robert R. Slater Jr. - Tuesday, October 10, 2017

This is a fascinating topic. I am wondering what the phrase means "Select leaders that focus on physician engagement." Any further thoughts on this or want to amplify? Does that mean leaders in administration or physician leaders and what is meant by "engagement"? Thanks for kicking off a good dialogue with Parts I and II in this set, Kim. -Bob Slater

Please login to comment