5 Practices to Prevent Burnout in Your Workplace

Photo by monkeybusinessimages/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by monkeybusinessimages/iStock / Getty Images

There has been a lot of recent discussion about physician burnout. There has not been as much dialogue surrounding burnout among other hospital or clinic staff (nurses, technicians, administrative staff, etc.). In this article, we are going to go through a few best practices for preventing burnout in your workplace. We’ll explain how they can be implemented in your workplace – whether you manage a surgical team, or have your own practice.

Physical Health is Important. Emphasize it.

Physical health and fitness are important elements to preventing burnout. If you’re physically healthy, your chances of burnout at work are cut down significantly and make you feel more energized. Emphasize physical health in your workplace. You can take short breaks throughout the day and encourage your team to go for a walk, or workout before or after your shift.

Encourage Support

Feeling isolated is a classic symptom of burnout. To combat feelings of isolation at work, encourage your staff to support each other. You want to make sure employees feel comfortable socializing when appropriate. While certain team members may carry primary responsibility and accountability on tasks, let everyone feel that others will kick in to help support the overall goals.

Take Short, Frequent Breaks

Not everyone on the team can accomplish this routinely - especially the surgeon. But when possible, take a few extra minutes for the stairs, a mini-meditation, or a private scream. This can create greater focus, efficiency, and productivity with critical work. Consider tracking average duration of procedures, complication rates, and other parameters when these strategies are implemented. Adjust as needed to create performance improvement.

Recognize the Work that Your Staff Does

Feeling under-appreciated or ineffective at work can easily lead to burnout at work. It’s important to make sure your staff feels valued. Recognize or reward excellent work and your employees will feel valued in the workplace.

Educate Staff & Co-workers on Burnout

Education is an essential part of burnout prevention. If you understand the warning signs and symptoms of burnout you can take action to prevent and treat it. Do your best to educate your staff and co-workers about burnout.

Whether you manage a surgical team at a hospital, or you’re in private practice, it’s important to remember that the hospital and clinic staff are part of the equation. Burnout is not just an issue reserved for surgeons.  

SurgeonMasters has programs to assist individual surgeons, groups, and healthcare teams to incorporate these strategies in their workplace. Try these ideas out yourself and with your team. If you are struggling or wanting to magnify the positive impact, reach out to Team@SurgeonMasters.com for guidance.



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What is Thanksgiving?

Photo by CatLane/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by CatLane/iStock / Getty Images

Over the past 20 years or more of my life as a surgeon, I have spent many of them, if not most, in the hospital taking call, operating on injured patients, or rounding on patients who all agreed that no day is great to be in the hospital, but especially on this holiday. Fluctuating between burnout and survival, I would show up to Thanksgiving dinner, express thanks to my family, and do my best to demonstrate my gratitude.

For the past 5 years, I have been learning and sharing loads of life improvement strategies. One strategy I have started practicing more recently is saying thank you instead of sorry.

Both statements are an expression of politeness.

Sorry is an expression of regret.

Thanksgiving is the expression of gratitude, and there are many things for which I am THANKFUL.

Thanksgiving is also a celebration of the harvest, so I want to thank those who have significantly contributed to what I have grown and produced. I will focus on the last several years.

**Thank you to Paul Hiller for sharing my vision that surgeons would greatly benefit from The 8 PRACTICEs of Highly Successful Surgeons, SurgeonMasters peer-mentoring strategies, and education in skills seldom taught in surgical training - such as wellness and burnout prevention.

**Thank you to Ryan McGinty of Oil Can Marketing for providing me the support and expertise to create a marketing and publishing strategy that is personalized, growing, and measuring our progress. Ryan has helped me grow from struggling to publish one blog per month to having multiple blogs per month and way less stress doing it.

**Thank you to Ed Abel, my Business Advisor, for being an awesome guide to growing a business, as well as creating greater self-awareness, providing outside perspective, acknowledging my strengths, and making huge progress through short-term and long-term goals to address my weaknesses. He has allowed me to stay in charge of my life, business, and surgical practice while making huge progress as a writer (previously challenged with many writing blocks), a podcaster (old guy learning new tool), and public speaker (nurture over nature as an introvert), just to name a few.

**Thank you to the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC), founder Bruce Schneider, my many coaches and peer coaches, and a community of amazingly supportive people. You have helped me recover from years of “not good enough” and burnout caused by a training and health care system that is excellent in so many ways, but is too negatively driven and not sustainable for many of us surgeons. I have done some awesome things demonstrating to other surgeons that it is not too late to learn new skills and that our passion for performance improvement in all areas of life and practice can be restored.

**Thank you to so many other surgeons for providing me encouragement and support allowing me to see that others find value in what we are doing. Our list of collaborators has grown to over 50 surgeons on our blogs, podcasts, web-conferences and programs.

**Thank you to the hundreds of surgeons and other health care professionals that have participated in Surgeon Consulting, Meetups, Web-conferences and other presentations while I continue to practice my many growing abilities such as communication, teaching, and providing feedback that offers opportunity (not obligation) for improvements or adjustments.

**Thank you to so many role models and providers of outstanding programs that are making an impact in the healthcare industry such as Dike Drummond, MD and  ZDoggMD.

I am thankful to be taking part in expanding this audience.

**Thank you to hundreds of the patients that have allowed me to continue to provide Hope, Care and the best of my many growing abilities as a practicing Orthopaedic Trauma Surgeon, while establishing my work / life rhythm with my wife and children that is lifestyle-friendly and sustainable. I have produced hundreds of healed bones, thousands of restored activities, and millions of words of encouragement and support.

**Thank you to my wife Kate for more things than I could possibly fit into a blog. Thank you for being so patient and understanding considering how strange all of these things seem compared to the overworked, introverted Orthopaedic Trauma Surgeon that you married. We are still in production of several future compassionate and self-sustaining adults.

At this time of year, it's important to take a step back and get some perspective. Too often, we get caught up in the day-to-day details that can blind us to what's most important in life. Be mindful of everything you have to be thankful for and rather than apologizing for how difficult life can be, say “thank you” for that which you are grateful!  

From all of us at SurgeonMasters, we wish you a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

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Why Burnout Rates Are Higher Among Female Surgeons

Photo by gpointstudio/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by gpointstudio/iStock / Getty Images

A recent article published in Modern Medicine discusses the prevalence of burnout among female physicians and why women doctors are more prone to work burnout than their male counterparts. In this article, we are going to discuss why women surgeons have higher burnout rates compared to men, as well as some burnout prevention tips.

Are Women More Burned Out Than Men?

Statistically, women physicians are experiencing more burnout in the workplace than men. But why is that? Doctors of both genders have to deal with long work hours, patient concerns, bureaucratic tasks, and more at work – all of which can contribute to burnout. On top of that, many women experience “role strain” as they juggle various roles as physician, spouse, mother, etc. Compared to their male counterparts, female physicians are more likely to take on household and childcare responsibilities. Female doctors are also more likely to accommodate their work schedules around household and family events. As a result, many female doctors effectively start a “second shift” when they get home from their job – managing household tasks and taking care of children. Juggling the operating room and added stresses of a surgeon often make this even more difficult.

A lot of these factors are the result of outdated social norms. While more and more female physicians are entering the field of medicine every year, these norms can be difficult to break. Most surgeons also have an inner critic and may be comparing themselves to others in a previous generation or to those who make it look so easy. The ways in which women and men experience burnout can also differ significantly.

Burnout Prevention Tips

With female physicians at a greater risk of burnout, what can be done to prevent burnout before it strikes? Here are a few tips:

  • Set Boundaries.

  • Learn When & How to Say No

  • Communicate Effectively with your Co-workers & Family

  • Recognize the Signs of Burnout

SurgeonMasters & The 8 PRACTICEs of Highly Successful Surgeons

SurgeonMasters is a group of like-minded surgeons (both male and female) of various backgrounds and specialties. Our goal is to create successful and sustainable practices and healthy lifestyles by providing educational resources, as well as a place for surgeons to share their stories and support one another. As a collective, we aim to implement The 8  PRACTICEs of Highly Successful Surgeons into work and home life. The 8 PRACTICEs is a methodology I developed after dealing with burnout first-hand. These PRACTICEs promote work / life balance and rhythm and are applicable to both male and female surgeons.

Source article: http://medicaleconomics.modernmedicine.com/medical-economics/news/marriage-children-cause-more-burnout-female-physicians?GUID=372B852B-2A5D-4711-A0BD-0A1CD38BED93&rememberme=1&ts=15042017


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Surgeon Coaching to Enhance Wellness

Photo by IvelinRadkov/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by IvelinRadkov/iStock / Getty Images

Surgeon Coaching to Enhance Wellness & Improve Healthcare

A recent article published in The New England Journal of Medicine Catalyst discusses the benefits of provider coaching. According to the article, health care provider coaching promotes health and wellness, improves outcomes, and decreases the risk of burnout among providers. In this article, we are going to explore the ways in which provider coaching can help reduce the risk of burnout by creating a great rhythm in your life and practice.

Surgeon Wellness

As we have discussed regularly on this blog, burnout among the medical community is reaching epidemic levels. Addressing burnout, identifying its causes, and working toward treatment is the best way to combat burnout – and provider coaching can go a long way to support the prevention of burnout.

Question: Why is burnout among providers increasing now? Why wasn’t it as big of an issue in previous generations?

“Roughly 30 years ago (circa 1985)…the doctor-patient relationship was central to the art and craft of medical practice. Record-keeping, regulatory compliance, medical billing, and adherence to standardized practice guidelines remained in the background, rarely overshadowing the healing relationship with the patient or the autonomy of the physician. In today’s corporate health care environment, screen time and the ever-mounting stream of bureaucratic tasks have crowded out the main event: quality face time with patients.”

How Coaching Can Helps

Provider Coaching can help medical professionals to:

  1. Create short-term and long-term goals.

  2. Develop strategies to reach your goals and to manage the complexities of day to day life.

  3. Learn and Implement the necessary steps to deal with self-defeating thoughts.

  4. Examine strengths and new perspectives

  5. Employ resilience training and stress management techniques.

Coaching sessions, whether in groups or one-on-one, can be done face-to-face, or (as is more often the case nowadays) over internet meeting platforms or phone conversations.

Connect with a Provider Coach

Working with a health care provider coach can be extremely beneficial to your practice and your overall wellbeing. To learn more about the benefits of provider coaching, contact SurgeonMasters today!

Source: http://catalyst.nejm.org/health-care-provider-coaching-wellness-teamwork/


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I Can Fly And Miguel Is Teaching Me

Miguel was part of a team that broke the world record in skydiving sequential. 111 people, 3 points at skydive Chicago. Thank you Miguel for permission to use this photo.

Miguel was part of a team that broke the world record in skydiving sequential. 111 people, 3 points at skydive Chicago. Thank you Miguel for permission to use this photo.

How Does Peer Mentoring Work?

Peer Mentoring. We all do it. However, we don’t always notice that we’re doing it. That lack of awareness makes it less effective. When we’re aware of what we’re doing and how we’re doing it, we can be much more effective. I think I can explain this best by way of an example.

Taking Flight

I already know how to fly. For me, this involves buying a ticket, showing up, and having a highly trained individual (a pilot) do it for me. My goal is to get to my destination safely and efficiently.

As a kid, learning to fly didn’t work out so well. I had unrealistic expectations, no equipment, and inadequate training & practice. I would flap my arms as hard as I could and jump from a tree, but I always ended up crash landing.

However, I have a surgeon friend (Miguel) that knows several ways to fly. While he might describe it otherwise, from my perspective Miguel is an expert. Miguel has clocked over 800 hours as a private pilot. He’s also jumped out of an airplane over 2400 times.

You’re probably thinking he must be crazy. My thought was “How cool!” While one of those used to be on my bucket list, my maturity has allowed me to understand that my knees, back, and neck are in no condition to tolerate that experience. Rather, my “how cool” thought comes from how much I enjoy learning about other surgeons’ fitness, mindfulness, or recharge activities. Miguel has been able to create longevity in his career by maintaining and expanding his skills inside and outside of the operating room.

Peer Mentoring

So how does this apply to peer mentoring?

Peer mentoring involves helping your peers be more aware. After talking with Miguel just once at length, he responded in an email:

“I have to thank you for your encouragement and your website. If your goal is to change surgeons’ lives, man I tell you,.. you are doing it!!”

Peer mentoring is not one-sided. Miguel is also mentoring me. His knowledge in areas that require hours and hours of training, significant planning, teamwork, checklists, and where the consequence of shortcuts can be catastrophic, is extremely valuable to me. It raises my awareness both inside and outside of the operating room.


SurgeonMasters creates peer-mentoring opportunities through Meetups, Webinars, Web-Conferences and more. Contact us to see what opportunities best fit your time, energy and budget. SurgeonMasters is a continuing medical education company focused on delivering medical education, strategies and techniques overlooked or underemphasized in traditional medical training that improve practice performance, surgeon wellness and ultimately, patient outcomes.



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