Clinician Burnout Persists

Debra Shute, September 14, 2017

An expert weighs in on how organizations can make the business case to address systemic problems that contribute to physician fatigue.

The healthcare industry has been battling clinician burnout for years, yet the problem rages on.

Indeed, The Physicians Foundation most recent survey of more than 17,000 physicians across the United States found that more than 48% experience feelings of burnout almost always or constantly, with an additional 25% reporting that they experience some feelings of burnout. 

However, physicians aren't suffering in silence the way they might have five or 10 years ago. Today's healthcare leaders are acutely aware of the problem.

"We continue to wrestle with physicians' ability to enjoy practice," says James Bleicher, MD, MHCM, regional president of SSM Health's St. Louis-Missouri market.

For insights into what experts do know about preventing and healing burnout—and where leaders like Bleicher can go from here—HealthLeaders spoke with Russell Libby, MD, board member of the Physicians Foundation and founder, president and medical director of Virginia Pediatric Group.

HealthLeaders Media: Do we have any good news on the burnout front?

Russell Libby, MD: Yes, I think we're learning a lot, and we have some really top-flight people focused on that and some meaningful institutions trying to create a rally around it.

If you look at the Mayo Clinic, Stanford, the American Medical Association—these are all organizations that are trying to identify root causes, trying different solutions to help to improve, and measuring as they go so they have a sense of what's working and what's not working.

Related: Stop Ignoring Physician Burnout

HLM: What are the ongoing barriers?

Libby: Leaders must understand that this is going to be an ongoing and everyday process that has to be integrated into the way any of these places operate.

Debra Shute

Debra Shute is the Senior Physicians Editor for HealthLeaders Media.

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