Hospital Characteristics that can lead to Doctor Burnout

In an article published on titled “Is your hospital a miserable place to work? Here are 14 clues,” Dr. Robert Khoo sarcastically offers 14 guidelines for hospitals to follow in order to make their employees more miserable and prone to burnout. Dr. Khoo details these guidelines to prove a point about hospital work conditions, and I’m sure many surgeons can personally identify with many of these. This article was written in 2015 but these issues are still prevalent in many hospital settings. In this article, I’d like to take a look at 8 of these 14 characteristics and how they can lead to a burnout-prone work environment.

Top-Down Management

When upper managers make blanket decisions without considering or addressing the needs of specific participants in different departments, it can be incredibly frustrating. Involving us in these decisions is a great way to ensure happy surgeons across the board.

Doctor’s Lounge

The doctor’s lounge has been making a comeback recently in some hospitals in the broad effort to combat physician burnout. Doctor’s lounges can offer a place for doctors to find a quick mental, emotional or physical recharge amidst what can be a very hectic and stressful work environment.

Quarterly Staff Meetings

It’s essential to field questions and take feedback from physicians during quarterly staff meetings rather than using this time to simply explain new procedures and protocol.

Dealing with Burnout Complaints

Take complaints of burnout from physicians and other staff seriously, as it correlates with patient quality and efficiency outcomes. Burnout is a serious issue and should be treated as such. Even better, take steps to help decrease stressors, offer opportunities for choices, or allow some control to be felt by those working with your system.

Irrelevant Metrics

Focusing on irrelevant metrics will only frustrate and anger your surgeons. Patient care is more difficult to quantify, but is the most important metric. Understand that at our core we are driven more by quality than quantity.

Patient Reviews

Patient reviews are important, but not nearly as important as great care. If a surgeon gets a poor review because they refused to overprescribe for a patient, don’t make them feel under-valued. Consider modifying mission statements and educating patients and family members that their satisfaction is a high priority, but not at the expense of their care and well-being.

Cutting Expenses

Cutting expenses while demanding increased productivity or compliance with additional administrative burdens of the human elements, while cutting expense in areas of support is a recipe for burnout or failure. Look for technical or system efficiencies that help save money. Educate surgeons and staff on process improvement strategies that save time and money.

Work / Life Balance

Many physicians and surgeons work crazy hours that cut into their family and home time. Encourage a healthy work / life balance that allows professionals to promote patient wellness by example or role-modeling surgeon wellness.

Addressing These Issues

These 8 characteristics of burnout-prone hospital environments are a serious concern to surgeon wellness. Let’s make an effort to work with our hospital’s leadership to address these issues if present, and provide the best work environment for patient care.  If you have tried this on your own and failed, don’t give up. We can do this TOGETHER! Let us know how we can help.