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Physician Burnout Case Report: Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente of North California in Redwood City started its physician wellness programs to improve physician satisfaction and retention. At first, the wellness program consisted solely of an annual physician recognition dinner. As the team at Kaiser Permanente learned more about physician wellness, they started designing programs supporting physical health, collegiality, community, and practice management.

“Wellness is personal” at Permanente, so the Wellness Committee team promotes programs with a variety of information and services to meet the needs of all physicians. Some successful programs the team has implemented include:

  • Mentoring: Experienced physicians are paired with new physicians. There is also a “speed dating” lunch program where primary care doctors sit on one side of the table and specialists on the other side. The specialists rotate every five minutes. This approach not only introduces staff who might not otherwise meet, but also promotes collegiality.

  • Health festivals: Tables are set up with different services where physicians rotate through and learn about various aspects of their own health. Examples include a blood pressure check, a dermatology check for skin cancers, and dietary evaluations. Physicians also have an opportunity to sign up for their own preventive health screenings, such as Pap smears and blood tests.

  • Movie day: Wellness committee staff rent a movie for the physicians and their families and organize a lunchtime viewing party. This promotes community and a sense of pride in the workplace for the physicians.

  • Wellness Thursday lunches: Every Thursday at noon, lunch is provided to the team and various topics are discussed including travel, financial management, how to save for college, real estate, and home remodeling.

  • Annual check-up reminder: In their birthday month, physicians receive a letter reminding them to see their own providers. Leaders help them block the time in their schedule for that appointment to promote their own health.

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