For years, we’ve known that United States physicians suffer more burnout than other American workers, Medscape reported. Doctors are often required to work extremely long hours, and face high pressure on a daily basis, which can contribute to burnout, commonly defined as a loss of enthusiasm for work, feelings of cynicism, and a low sense of personal accomplishment.

A new study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings has proposed nine strategies that healthcare organizations can use to reverse the physician burnout trend.

“Research has shown that more than half of US physicians are experiencing symptoms of burnout, and the rate is increasing,” said first author of the article Tait Shanafelt MD, according to MayoClinic.

“Unfortunately, many organizations see burnout as a personal problem to be addressed by the individual physician. It is clear, however, that burnout is a system issue, and addressing it is the shared responsibility of both the individuals and healthcare organizations,” Shanafelt continued.

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Professionally, physician burnout can include lower productivity, staff turnover, decreased quality of care, and malpractice suits. It can also lead to broken relationships, alcoholism and suicide.

Researchers compiled the list after documenting the rise and costs of physician burnout for more than a decade. According to MayoClinic, the nine strategies to resolve burnout include:

  1. Acknowledging and assessing the problem

  2. Recognizing the behaviors of leaders that can increase or decrease burnout

  3. Using a systems approach to develop targeted interventions to improve efficiency and reduce clerical work

  4. Cultivating community at work

  5. Using rewards and incentives strategically

  6. Assessing whether the organization's actions are aligned with the stated values and mission

  7. Implementing organizational practices and policies that promote flexibility and work-life balance

  8. Providing resources to help individuals promote self-care

  9. Supporting organizational science (study the factors in your own institution that contribute to the problem, and invest in solutions)

Source: Noseworthy J, Shanafelt T. Reversing physician burnout, using nine strategies to promote well-being. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2016.

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Physician Burnout Rates Have Increased Since 2011; Half Now Experience At Least One Symptom