Center Director Quoted in Blog

August 30, 2012


Original article posted at: http://www.bizjournals.com/houston/blog/2012/08/addressing-physician-burnout.html.

Almost half of physicians report burnout, survey says
Houston Business Journal, by Bayan Raji, Reporter
Date: Wednesday, August 29, 2012, 4:27pm CDT

For some people, like me, there have been times when a trip to the doctor ended up sucking up an entire day. And for busy executives, that's time and money.

But a new survey among U.S. physicians reveals the other side to patient overload and a long work schedule. A national survey of 7,288 physicians found 45.8 percent of respondents reported at least one symptom of burnout, according to a report published by Archives of Internal Medicine, a Journal of the American Medical Association Network publication.

Symptoms of burnout include high emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and low sense of personal accomplishment, as described in a release.

�Doctors work under an incredible amount of stress, declining payments and an increasing patient load,� The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston's Thomas Cole told me.

Cole is director of the McGovern Center for Humanities and Ethics at UTHealth. He warned about physician burnout in a book he co-edited, �Faculty Health in Academic Medicine: Physicians, Scientists and the Pressures of Success,� published in 2009.

Burnout can lead to unhappiness, errors and impairment, Cole said. Participating in a group practice could enable some physicians to set their own schedule and share workload, as opposed to operating a solo practice.

The most important thing is for physicians and their workplaces to address this serious topic. The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, for example, has a faculty health program that teaches techniques for self-care. Private referrals for physicians in distress, stress reduction techniques and journaling classes are accessible to faculty. Even something as simple as listening to a lecture or music, just to focus a person�s attention on something else can help, Cole said.

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