How One Hospital Addressed Burnout
Julie Wei, MD, chief of pediatric otolaryngology and audiology at Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando, Fla., described changes implemented at her hospital to fill what she considered serious gaps in providing the right resources for physician and provider well being. Doctors previously had the same standard employee assistance program at their disposal as everyone else. This involved being given a list of local mental health counselors and being told to find one.
Explore This IssueMarch 2020
The problem, Dr. Wei said, is that doctors do not tend to seek help from employee assistance programs, largely out of a fear of being stigmatized. Department chairs might not be advocates of well being, or even believe in burnout.
Under Dr. Wei’s direction, the hospital created a medical staff health and wellness committee, followed by a resident and faculty well-being program. The program focuses on mental health support designed specifically for physicians and advanced practice providers.
The hospital is also in the process of creating a chief of clinician experience position and a chief wellness officer position. They also started an immediate mental health crisis line to give residents and faculty 24/7 access to psychologists, with an hour of orientation about the program provided to residents and a 90-minute group session available each month with a licensed psychologist, Dr. Wei said.
To encourage physicians to take stock of their own wellness and create a culture where it’s not a taboo subject, she organized a viewing of the documentary “Do No Harm,” on physician suicide, followed by a panel discussion. She co-sponsored and participated in a talent show at Nemours as a way to boost morale and build cohesion.
“When you’re drowning in systems and barriers and a thousand clerical burdens, you’re really not going to focus on your well being,” she said. “This is why system-based support solutions are necessary to create change and greater support for mental health for physicians.”
Thomas Collins is a freelance medical writer based in Florida.