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When you really look at hot topics in medicine, physician burnout seems to really skyrocket up to the top. Everyone is doing surveys to help show you how burnt out they are.
- According to a 2011 study at the Mayo Clinic, 45% of all US physicians had at least one symptom of professional burnout.
- Projections from HHS target 2020 as the year we will face a 50,000 physician shortage.
- Otolaryngology ranks high on the list and one of the top surgical specialties facing burnout.
Yet with all this data on burnout, its logarithmic growth rate, and its impact on healthcare, it seems the only solutions are bandages. Everyone focuses on work-life balance. How does one achieve that in today’s health system?
Tait Shanafelt, MD, Stanford University suggests, “We tell physicians to get more sleep, eat more granola, do yoga, and take better care of yourself. These efforts are well intentioned.” Dr. Shanafelt adds, “The message to physicians, however, is that you are the problem, and you need to toughen up.” In a recent NEJM article, Shanafelt goes on to note, “We need to stop blaming individuals and treat physician burnout as a system issue. If it affects half of our physicians, it is indirectly affecting half of our patients.”
When focusing just on otolaryngology, the triggers for burnout fall as in the chart below.
While we currently do not have the answers, we recognize we all need to be a part of the solution. Join us as we start a conversation around burnout during the Annual Meeting and start working towards innovative ways to stem the tide and reduce the contributors.