Physician Burnout – What the Medical Profession is Doing – What You Can Do
Last month we discussed some of the causes of physician burnout, symptoms, and signs and the effects on patient care. June’s forum will focus on what the medical profession is doing to combat burnout and what patients can do to help.
A. What the Medical Profession is Doing:
- Reduce Administrative Overload
a. The American College of Physicians (A.C.P.) is working with insurance companies and regulatory agencies to reduce non-essential data entry into electronic medical records so doctors have more time with patients.
b. Some medical practices have employed scribes to enter data into electronic medical records so doctors have less administrative work.
c. The American Medical Association (AMA) has developed specialized educational programs on the Internet to help physicians recognize burnout and to develop coping strategies, such as improved lifestyle, meditation, and participation in peer support groups.
If you are a physician, you can learn about the AMA’s program by going to AMA Ed Hub/ AMA Steps Forward/ Preventing Physician Distress and Suicide.
B. What You Can Do:
- Reinforce your doctor’s constructive efforts to help you. Consider expressing your appreciation when your doctor (or his/her staff) calls you with test results.
- Depending on the nature of your relationship with your physician (e.g., how long you’ve been his/her patient, etc.), consider gently and politely expressing your concern about changes you’ve noticed (i.e., distractedness) or just “sensed.” You might say something like: “I may be wrong but you seem a little distracted or preoccupied. I’ve heard that doctors are under a lot of stress these days”. If your physician responds positively, you might mention an article about the tremendous amount of stress doctors experience.
- You might ask if he/she is familiar with the AMA program. If your doctor is receptive, you may question with some humor: “How can I become your lowest stress patient?”
- Depending on the success of the above interactions, at your next visit you may say something like: “I’m feeling less stress since I was last here – hope the same is true for you.”
- If you decide that problems your physician is having interfere with the quality of medical care you are receiving, you may need to consider changing to another doctor.
If you have questions about this or past months’ forums, please post them on our website – www.qualityaffordablehealthcare.net. If you provide your email address, we’ll personally answer your questions. If you have friends and family you think can benefit from this monthly healthcare forum and periodic “doctors’ take” on breaking healthcare news, please suggest they sign up on our website.
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Larry Lazarus & Jeff Foster