Preventing Physician Burnout Calls for a “Career-long” Approach

Palo Alto, CA – A new model for preventing physician burnout was published today in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.  The proposed model, authored by a team of psychology and medical professionals from Palo Alto University and Stanford University School of Medicine, calls for a career-long approach to fostering a physician’s well-being, one that is introduced early in undergraduate medical training and extends throughout professional training and continuing medical education.  The approach is modeled after traditional medical education and  emphasizes intrapersonal and interpersonal skills that help physicians cope with the emotional, social and physical impact of patient care delivery. 

The article entitled, “Foster Well-Being Throughout the Career Trajectory:  A Developmental Model of Physician Resilience Training,” states that physician burnout is common and largely driven by the demands of the current health care industry.  While undergraduate, graduate and continuing medical education equips physicians with essential medical knowledge and skills, the comprehensive, long-term  models of resilience training are lacking. 

The team’s perspective is informed by both a review of current literature and their backgrounds in behavioral medicine/health psychology and early intervention for traumatic stress as well as medical school faculty members who practice, teach and supervise in academic and Veterans Affairs medical centers. 

“Current literature states that physician burnout is increasingly prevalent both in medical trainees and practicing physicians,” says article co-author and Palo Alto University associate professor Matthew J. Cordova.   The article cites adverse consequences of burnout includes decreased productivity and poor efficiency, medical errors, poorer patient satisfaction, non-adherence and poor patient outcomes, reduced physician empathy,  depression, substance abuse and suicide.” 

Co-author Christophe E. Gimmer, MD, LMFT at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System

and Stanford University School of Medicine says that systemic contributors to physician burnout can include increased workload,  electronic medical records and other administrative tasks, chaotic work environments, and an increased focus on productivity in the context of reduced financial compensation and greater liability threats.” 

According to co-author Lars G. Osterberg, MD, MPH of the VA Palo Alto Health Care System

and Stanford University School of Medicine, “Physician wellness interventions vary widely and have yielded mixed results.  This model would normalize and validate the full range of emotional reactions to occupational stress, acknowledge the universal emotional challenges and effects of patient care and empower physicians to self-identify distress, seek support and assert their needs individually and as a professional community.

 

About Mayo Clinic Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit organization committed to innovation in clinical practice, education and research, and providing compassion, expertise and answers to everyone who needs healing. Visit the Mayo Clinic News Network for additional Mayo Clinic news and Mayo Clinic Facts for more information about Mayo.

 

About Mayo Clinic Proceedings Mayo Clinic Proceedings is a monthly peer-reviewed medical journal that publishes original articles and reviews dealing with clinical and laboratory medicine, clinical research, basic science research, and clinical epidemiology. Mayo Clinic Proceedings is sponsored by the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research as part of its commitment to physician education. The journal has been published for more than 90 years and has a circulation of 127,000. Visit the Mayo Clinic Proceedings website to view articles.

 

About Palo Alto University (PAU)

Palo Alto University, a private, non-profit university located in the heart of Northern California’s Silicon Valley, is dedicated to addressing pressing and emerging issues in the fields of psychology and counseling while meeting the needs of today’s diverse society. PAU offers undergraduate and graduate programs that are led by faculty who make significant contributions to in their field. PAU was founded in 1975 as the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology and re-incorporated as Palo Alto University in August 2009. PAU is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).  PAU’s doctoral programs are accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) and its master’s in counseling programs by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP).  

 

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