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  • Writer's picturePaul DeChant MD, MBA

Burnout - We Can Fix This!

Most healthcare leaders are challenged by physician engagement and burnout

Physician engagement and burnout are in the top three concerns of most healthcare leaders. They should be.

When engagement is high and burnout is low, healthcare organizations thrive. The health systems that have best weathered the upheaval of the ongoing pandemic are those which had a deeply embedded positive culture in place before Covid-19 hit. Those with dysfunctional cultures were struggling pre-pandemic and have seen growing problems with absenteeism, lower productivity, more safety events, and lower patient satisfaction.

Yet in a leader's busy day, it's often hard to find the time to improve relationships with physicians. After all, they're busy too making available time even scarcer. Most leaders want to improve engagement, but aren't sure what will be most effective and where to start.

Helping leaders re-engage with physicians

How do you efficiently and effectively improve physician engagement? There are a few key steps that make a difference:

  • Learn about the drivers of burnout and their connection to engagement. As you gain a deeper understanding of this, the path to improving physician engagement becomes clear.

  • Prioritize physician engagement activities in your schedule - While it doesn't take much time, you may feel tapped our with no additional time for this. I promsie you that we can find the time following some simple steps.

  • Take small actions right away - Shadowing physicians, developing a physician-leader council, and starting a newsletter can be done with less hassle than you might imagine.

  • Measure a driver metric that indicates engagement - these vary by specialty and organization, so it's important to pick the one that's right for you.

  • Engage your direct reports in this work - if they know it's important to you, it will be important to them, and they will help you.

Empower physicians to create the practice they love while actively supporting the success of the entire enterprise

This is an anxiety-provoking step for many leaders, and for good reason. Physicians have a lot of frustrations in most practice settings. Their initial ideas or demands for changes, particularly those that create a practice they can love, may sound like they will put the organization at unsustainable financial risk.

Experience shows that when practices are redesigned properly, with physician involvement in the redesign process, such changes improve enterprise financial performance, along with improvements in all other metrics.

A Trusted Advisor - the key to successful transformation

Improving physician engagement and reducing burnout requires change. While a leader may lead the change on their own, such transformations are accomplished far more quickly and effectively when leaders engage a coach - a trusted advisor who has personally led a transformation and has coached others in the process - someone who has "been there and done that" and can have the honest conversations that are challenging for an internal and subordinate team member.

I am passionate about serving as a trusted advisor for leaders who are committed to transformation. My experience - a unique combination of decades of clinical practice and progressive management roles, 5 years as a CEO who transformed a 300-physician group, 6 years of coaching other C-suite leaders, and deep expertise on burnout - has prepared me to effectively guide leaders who are ready to improve their organization's resilience by engaging and empowering their physicians.

You don't have to be the CEO to effect culture change. As a leader your have a span of responsibility in which you have an impact, positive or negative, whether you realize it or not, no matter your position in your organization. Having been a medical director, department chair, division chief, and CEO, I can help you in whatever your leadership role may be.

If you are looking for a trusted advisor, contact me at

I'm looking forward to hearing from you!


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