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Beating Clinician Burnout

News  |  By Jennifer Thew RN  
   April 01, 2017

"You have to intervene and have some sort of infrastructure in place," he says.

According to Weiner's survey, this is where many healthcare executives are struggling to find answers.

In response to the survey question "As a healthcare leader, do you think you have a sufficient understanding of the causes of physician burnout?" 57% of CEOs, 65% of CMOs, and 42% of COOs answered yes. As to whether they felt that they were sufficiently addressing the organizational factors that contribute to physician burnout, only 23% of CEOs, 16% of CMOs, and 6% of COOs said yes.

Weiner is one healthcare executive who has sought to tackle burnout at an organizational level. In 2013, after stepping into a newly created full-time medical director role at the medical group, she got to work evaluating burnout at the facility and uncovering its root causes.

"I have no information at all that it had anything to do with burnout, but the fact is one of our colleagues committed suicide the year before. We were all quite shaken. I thought it important to measure what was going on in our organization," she says.

Weiner used the Maslach Burnout Inventory to gauge physicians' burnout experience.

The research tool was developed by Christina Maslach, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, who has studied burnout since the 1970s. It breaks burnout into the following three key dimensions:

  • Emotional exhaustion—feeling tired and fatigued at work
  • Cynicism—developing a callous or uncaring feeling, even hostility, toward others, including patients and colleagues
  • Inefficacy—feeling like you are not accomplishing anything worthwhile or making a difference at work.

Jennifer Thew, RN, is the senior nursing editor at HealthLeaders.


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