When looking at why we as an industry have been largely unsuccessful in combating the epidemic of burnout that is plaguing our community, we must deal with our approach to solutions. One of the biggest things to distinguish about burnout is that it’s not a problem to be solved.  It’s not a diagnosis to be made, and it’s not a condition to be treated. Burnout is a perplexity; a vicious cycle ...

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As physicians, we are conditioned to put ourselves last. This long-standing tendency likely began way before we hit medical school. But certainly, our training reinforces it. Think about it: the personality type that goes into medicine is typically a caretaker. And while medical school reinforces this personality pitfall, It doesn’t end there. Residency brings a whole other dimension of self-neglect. We think, “If I can just get out of residency ...

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One of the biggest points of contention in the ongoing discussion of burnout is that the system of health care is flawed.  The endless bureaucracy, decreasing physician pay, and increasing meaningful use requirements that spawn endless clicking on an already inefficient electronic medical record platform have become unbearable by most practicing physicians today. Furthermore, all the talk about mindfulness only riles up more anger in physicians as they feel they are ...

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As physicians, we are regarded as intelligent. Are we, as a community, as emotionally intelligent as we could be? The answer is no. Let's face it. We are trained from the time we are medical students to disconnect and suppress our emotion, and we are taught to appear stoic and strong. Showing emotion in front of patients is discouraged, even in a situation that would be deemed acceptable by most. ...

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Physician burnout has become the new “buzzword” in the medical industry that is the catalyst for ongoing research and the implementation of new “pilot projects” in the academic world of medicine. However, the research that is being done, is fairly (and predictably) narrow-minded when it comes to teasing out who really is at highest risk for these burnout, depression and even physician suicide. The research indicates that there are several risk ...

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Mindfulness has gained a lot of awareness and attention over the last few years as the medical community has set out to find strategies for prevention of physicians burnout. What has been coined “mindfulness-based stress reduction” or “mindfulness” is a principle proven long before medical researchers decided to reduce it to treatment strategy to promote acceptance among the physician community. This very useful tool today is becoming widely used in ...

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As physicians, we are seen as leaders whether we like it or not. And as such, we are charged with modeling greatness. But do we? Our training, while teaching us to be experts and authorities, does not teach us how to be leaders. However, somehow we get out into practice and are automatically seen as leaders, and thrown into positions that require a skill that we don’t have. And we ...

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There's a saying: "Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional." However, some people thrive by complaining. These people, when presented with potential solutions to the problem, argue and invalidate all possibilities presented. Sounds familiar? Being a physician advocate in the battle to lower physician burnout and prevent suicide in doctors, I am disheartened to see this phenomenon in our community. While there are frontline physicians — even physician leaders — ...

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The onset of the new millennium has brought about a shift in not only the technological aspect of our industry, but also the mindset of physicians who are entering the field. Gone are the days of "work 40 years at the same practice, retire and live the good life."  Physicians are finding more creative ways to be doctors including entering non-clinical careers, being entrepreneurs on the side, and moving into ...

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One of the most memorable times from my family medicine training days was the annual residency my intern year. It was the year of the World Cup, and a bonding experience that would later save my life.  Being able to be with not only my residency class, but also the faculty in a relaxed and empowering environment brought a sense of safety that allowed me to reach out to one ...

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