Lecture – The Impact of Burnout on Patient Care, Psychiatrists, and Psychiatry

Available with English captions.

Presented by Steve Adelman, MD, UMass Medical School – Visiting Scholar Series lecture

According to a 2015 study, U.S. physicians are facing a burnout rate of more than 50%. As a result, many are leaving the profession.

Physician burnout is defined as a job-related syndrome characterized by emotional exhaustion, cynicism, and reduced effectiveness. Burned-out physicians report feelings of depression, worry, depersonalization, and a decreased sense of meaning found in their work.

Watch now to learn more about:

  • The syndrome known as physician burnout and its overlap with physical and mental health
  • Physician Health Services (PHS) and how it can assist physicians with a variety of psychiatric and occupational challenges
  • The field of coaching, especially as it is utilized to assist practicing physicians with a variety of occupational challenges

The stress of interacting with patients, frustration with regulations and bureaucracy, and systemic complexity and uncertainty can all lead to burnout. Physicians who are burned out report feelings of anxiety and depression. In some cases, burned-out doctors show symptoms of more serious psychiatric disorders.

In this talk, Adelman looks at the many causes and symptoms of physician burnout. He also discusses therapeutic approaches and resources that can help doctors deal with their issues.

Given the serious nature of physician burnout, Adelman calls on all physicians to take necessary steps to address their physical and mental health. He cites reports that suggest links between the health of doctors and the health of their patients. For example, studies show that healthy physicians make 50% fewer medical errors, have more satisfied patients, give better treatment recommendations, and encourage greater treatment adherence.

In discussing resources for addressing physician burnout, Adelman describes the work of the Physician Health Service (PHS). A nonprofit subsidiary of the Massachusetts Medical Society, PHS promotes recovery, professionalism, wellness, and improved self-care.

PHS offers programs that address substance use disorders, neurocognitive and medical challenges, problematic workplace behavior, occupational stress, and burnout, as well as other mental health concerns.

He also explains the concept of coaching and describes how it can help physicians deal with burnout. In this approach, a physician interacts with a coach to address their work issues. Coaching can address well-being, work-life balance, anger management, emotional intelligence, and other issues. Like an athlete-and-coach relationship, this engagement involves setting goals for improvement.