Physician burnout is an increasingly common experience reported by nearly 46% of healthcare providers.1 Burnout in primary care physicians has increased over the previous decade not only in the United States but in Europe as well.2,3 Despite the variety of definitions that have been used to measure burnout, certain themes have tended to emerge, including:
- emotional exhaustion or loss of passion for one’s work,
- depersonalization of patients,
- and decreased meaningfulness in work.4
According to a recent Medscape survey,1 the main causes of burnout can be grouped under clinical, operational, or financial frustrations. I probably don’t have to tell you that bureaucratic rules and tasks rank highest as causes for physician dissatisfaction. These operational stressors further compound the frustration experienced when dealing with difficult patients or suffering from compassion fatigue.
Our society is experiencing a sharp increase in the number of people who suffer from chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, mental illness, and autoimmune disorders. The current medical model is ill suited to prevent the massive clinical, operational, and financial stressors this places upon providers. Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. We can choose to do something different.
Functional Medicine offers a different way to approach chronic disease, with a methodology and tools that are specifically designed to prevent and treat such diseases. Building upon our current medical knowledge, Functional Medicine allows you to use evidence-based therapies such as nutrition, diet, and exercise to build personalized therapeutic plans that can treat and sometimes even reverse chronic disease. For decades, the Institute for Functional Medicine has helped thousands of clinicians rediscover satisfaction in the workplace by improving their patient outcomes. Find the joy in practicing medicine again. Learn more at: IFM.org/GetStarted.
Shilpa Saxena, MD
- Peckham C. Physician burnout: it just keeps getting worse. Medscape Physician Lifestyle Report. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/838437_1. Published January 26, 2015. Accessed January 4, 2017.
- Houkes I, Winants Y, Twellaar M, Verdonk P. Development of burnout over time and the causal order of the three dimensions of burnout among male and female GPs. A three-wave panel study. BMC Public Health. 2011 Apr;11:240. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-11-240.
- Twellaar M, Winants Y, Houkes I. How healthy are Dutch general practitioners? Self-reported (mental) health among Dutch general practitioners. Eur J Gen Pract. 2008;14(1):4-9. doi: 10.1080/13814780701814911.
- Maslach C, Jackson S, Leiter M. Maslach Burnout Inventory Manual. 3rd ed. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press; 1996.