CHOC Physician Wellness Subcommittee Update
by Dr. Grace Mucci, Pediatric Neuropsychologist
Physician burnout is prevalent. According to the Mayo Clinic, up to 54% of doctors report at least one symptom of burnout. Further, it is estimated that the annual cost of that burnout is $4.6 billion per year in the form of physician turnover and reduced clinical hours, according to a study recently published by the Annals of Internal Medicine.
The experience of burnout results in
feelings of cynicism, detachment from work, low sense of personal
accomplishment, and emotional exhaustion. The reasons for burnout remain
complicated, and a recent systematic review by the Journal of the College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan revealed
both individual characteristics of physicians and variables within the working
environment as contributory factors.
More specifically, work load appeared
to be one of the main drivers and includes working hours, overnight duty,
administrative duties, schedule and flexibility, and complexity of tasks. Feeling
disconnected from colleagues or patients, poor communication or cooperation
between colleagues and dealing with patients who disagree with treatment
choices are additional sources of burnout.
Just as the causes of physician
burnout are multi-factorial, the solutions encompass many strategies that
include engaging in various lifestyle changes and systemic interventions.
One individual intervention that has
been receiving more interest among researchers is gratitude. A 2017 study at UC
Berkeley shows that the health benefits of expressing gratitude include increasing
resilience to stress and boosting mental health. Gratitude also has been found
to strengthen relationships and enhance mindfulness.
So, just how can we implement
gratitude in everyday life? Here are a few ideas that can be applied easily:
gratefulness for the beauty in nature
- Give thanks before
eating food that has been prepared
service people you encounter throughout the day, such as a barista or worker
- Keep a gratitude
journal and write about all the things you’re thankful for prior to retiring
for the night
- Remember to tell
your loved ones how much they are appreciated and one thing that you are grateful
that they do every day
coworkers or even strangers by performing a random act of kindness
- Keep a gratitude
board where you document things you are thankful for, and be sure to review
those items when you are having a difficult moment
At CHOC, several
initiatives that promote this practice of expressing gratitude are underway. CHOC
has partnered with the Institute for Healthcare Excellence (IHE) to offer an outstanding curriculum that helps build
respect, trust and compassion, ultimately improving communication and empathy
toward co-workers and patients and restoring joy to the practice of medicine.
Physician Wellness Subcommittee is busy planning a Wall of Gratitude in the physician dining room, where doctors can
show gratitude and appreciation for their peers in real time.
We know that
peer-to-peer recognition is important for strengthening the level of engagement
and positive bonds among colleagues. We have all experienced the satisfaction
of receiving kudos from our peers, and we want to make this easier and more
visible to others. As we continue to advance these initiatives, be sure to
practice those small but powerful strategies of expressing gratefulness in your