GNYHA Tackles Clinician Burnout in Hospitals

April 16, 2018

A GNYHA event last week on clinician burnout highlighted organizational factors and proposed solutions on a national, regional, and local level. The Symposium on Building a Resilient, Compassionate Workforce built on GNYHA’s efforts to promote awareness and engage hospital leadership in reducing burnout.

Arthur Hengerer, MD, a member of the National Academy of Medicine’s (NAM) Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-Being and Resilience, discussed efforts to understand and alleviate physician burnout. “Others suffer when we burn out,” Dr. Hengerer said, calling physician burnout “a global issue.”

Dr. Arthur Hengerer discusses the national efforts to understand the impacts of clinician burnout.

NAM’s centerpiece effort is the Clinical Well-Being Knowledge Hub, an online depository of information and resources that shares information from health care organizations across the country, including a conceptual model that depicts domains and factors tied to both clinician burnout and clinician well-being. Dr. Hengerer also discussed efforts by state licensing boards to alleviate inconsistencies with mental health reporting requirements, which historically have deterred physicians from seeking appropriate treatment.

Representatives from the Medical Society of the State of New York’s (MSSNY) Taskforce on Physician Stress and Burnout presented on regional efforts to address physician burnout. Taskforce Chair Michael Privitera, MD, and taskforce member Fouad Atallah, MD, discussed a recent MSSNY survey that assessed causes of work-related stress. One of the top findings was that 80% of stressors on physicians are organizationally or systemically based.

During a panel discussion moderated by GNYHA’s Foster Gesten, Drs. Sharon C. Kiely (Stamford Health), Lyuba Konopasek (NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital), and Ira Nash (Northwell Health) discussed ways to identify and alleviate physician burnout and hospital leadership’s role in combatting it. Dr. Nash and Dr. Kiely discussed how annual physician surveys are one key way to open the conversation. NewYork-Presbyterian has addressed physician burnout by conducting listening tours through different departments.

“In graduate medical education, over the last five years, (burnout) is the focus of every meeting,” said Dr. Konopasek, adding, “I am amazed at the physical harm (caused by burnout).”

The panelists offered various solutions to burnout such as promoting a culture of increased social interaction, wellness resources for physicians, development of a physician wellness committee, and appointment of a Chief Wellness Officer.