How to Combat Physician Burnout

When weighing job opportunities, most physicians focus on location and compensation. But it’s also important to consider how a prospective job will support your mental and physical health. At Vituity, we understand the importance of a balanced work life and fostering resilience and have developed programs and tools to help you thrive in your career.

Vanessa Calderón

Vanessa Calderón , MD, MPP

Emergency Physician

Published February 21, 2023

How to Combat Physician Burnout

The Need for Resilience

Stats on physician well-being are trending downward. A recent survey by the AMA, Mayo Clinic and Stanford Medicine found that 62.8% of physicians experienced symptoms of burnout in 2021, up from 38.2% the previous year.

Fortunately, more healthcare organizations are responding with meaningful investments in physician wellness. Many are going beyond surface interventions (think yoga classes) and focusing on evidence-based solutions that make a real difference in physicians’ quality of life.

As Director of Wellness and Resilience at Vituity, I’m committed to helping clinicians thrive while finding joy and meaning in their work. To this end, I’m spearheading an innovative coaching program for Vituity's Medical Directors in 2023.

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Resilient leadership makes a tremendous difference when a team struggles with low engagement and high burnout scores.

An Anecdote to Burnout

I can personally attest to the power of physician coaching. Seven years ago, as a mother of two and a medical director, I found myself stressed and burned out. Several life events occurred in quick succession, including a family illness and staffing difficulties at my hospital. In response, I cut my maternity leave short and increased my hours. I was at risk of becoming another statistic: a physician who left the profession early.

This experience led me to hire my first coach, who taught me tools that allowed me to be effective at work while also prioritizing my mental and emotional health. I'm now on a mission to pass these tools on to my fellow Vitans because no one should ever have to choose between their well-being and career.

And I’m not the only physician leader benefiting from coaching. A growing body of research shows that physician wellness coaching can improve engagement and retention while reducing burnout. A study led by physician wellness leader Tait Shanafelt found that engaging in just 3.5 hours of coaching reduced physicians’ burnout scores and improved quality of life.

Physician Coaching for Medical Directors

To support clinician resilience and wellness, Vituity will launch a coaching program for medical directors in 2023.

orange checkmark  Program offers didactics, group coaching, and individual coaching.

orange checkmark  Participants learn concepts that improve their mindset and habits and positively impact work-life integration.

orange checkmark  Address common pitfalls like black-and-white thinking patterns and perfectionism.

We chose to pilot the coaching program with our medical directors because they set the tone for their departments. A leader who embodies wellness is the number one indicator of a successful culture of wellness. We've seen it repeatedly. Resilient leadership makes a tremendous difference when a team struggles with low engagement and high burnout scores.

Change Can’t Wait

As healthcare organizations, one of the best ways we can care for patients is to also care for caregivers. Frontline providers represent our greatest innovation assets. As the closest connection to patients, we often know solutions to the real-world problems that keep healthcare leaders awake at night. It’s imperative that we look after the well-being of our provider teams as part of our overall mission of delivering the highest quality patient care.

Clinicians at all levels have endured much over the past three years, but we’ve prevailed. It’s time to stop applying Band-Aids and start offering evidence-backed solutions that provide real relief and bring fresh meaning to our work.

Read more about Vituity’s culture that empowers our providers to be their best selves.

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