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4 Steps to Prevent Physician Burnout and Promote Well-Being in Your Practice

Physicians are all too familiar with burnout—the overwhelming state of mental, emotional and physical exhaustion brought about by long-term stress. COVID-19 and its attendant stressors have only exacerbated the issue. As with many pandemic-related challenges, however, new solutions have emerged for both addressing and preventing physician burnout and promoting well-being in medicine. Have a specific plan for how to take care of yourself, your staff and your patients.


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Tackling burnout to improve professional satisfaction and patient outcomes requires a detailed action plan. The AMA STEPS Forward® program on the AMA Ed Hub is a great place to start. This free collection of interactive educational toolkits, videos and podcasts—covering topics such as managing stress, preventing burnout, and improving practice workflow—was developed to help physicians and their teams thrive in the evolving health care environment by working smarter, not harder. Each toolkit is extremely user-friendly, providing practical steps for implementation. This Physician Burnout toolkit (offering .5 credits CME) includes the following steps to help prevent physician burnout:

  1. STEP 1: Establish Wellness as a Quality Indicator for Your Practice

    Recognize—and find ways to regularly measure—the positive impact of well-being on your practice, such as improved patient safety and care, higher retention rates, more effective recruitment and better office morale. Addressing burnout is critical to achieving organizational goals.

  2. STEP 2: Start a Wellness Committee and/or Choose a Wellness Champion

    A wellness committee should include practitioners and administrators who periodically measure burnout, present data and help brainstorm solutions. For smaller practices, a wellness champion might be a better option. This is an individual who models positive behaviors (such as leaving work on time), promotes the use of wellness resources and encourages fellow employees to complete an annual wellness survey.

  3. STEP 3: Conduct an Annual Wellness Survey

    Because solutions to burnout must be tailored to yourself, your staff and your patients, it’s important to conduct an annual wellness survey to identify specific well-being challenges within your organization. It’s a great predictor of behavior and allows people the chance to feel heard.

  4. STEP 4: Meet Regularly with Leaders and/or Team Members to Discuss Data and Interventions to Promote Well-Being

    Ongoing measurement and intervention are crucial. It’s important to share burnout assessment data with your organization's leaders and other team members. Together, after reviewing the data, you can identify the areas of greatest concern and come up with interventions.

  5. Wellness interventions work!

    Addressing mental and behavioral health care in your practice takes effort, attention and patience. But even small changes can make a significant difference in the day-to-day lives of physicians. Whether conducting a wellness survey, improving communication, or redesigning work schedules, you can transform and improve your practice one step at a time.

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