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  • Writer's picturePaul DeChant MD, MBA

Eliminate Physician Frustrations to Prevent Physician Burnout

Updated: May 13

Do you work to eliminate physician frustrations?

A few years ago I was working with a health system that is committed to reducing physician burnout. I had a number of meetings, including one with the medical group dyad leadership team. This team includes physician leaders and their administrative partners at the manager, director, and chief levels.

To break the ice I asked each person to share their name, title, and the percentage of physicians reporting up to them that are burned out. They asked if I wanted to know about those are mostly just frustrated as well as those they think are actually burned out. Many said that about half are burned out, while 90-100% are frustrated.

Frustration is a big deal. When I worked as a Lean executive coach, many people thought I focused on removing waste from workflows. Most doctors don’t get excited about removing waste from their workflows. Almost all are passionate about getting rid of the barriers and frustrations they encounter multiple times a day. When I talk about removing barriers and frustrations, doctors get engaged.

How Does Clinician and Physician Burnout Happen?

Burnout happens when we put a highly motivated person into a work environment that is full of barriers and frustrations, requiring the person to be hypervigilant in order to be successful. We can maintain hypervigilance for short periods of time, but doing so consistently over the long term is unsustainable and leads to burnout.

Is frustration the first step on the continuum of burnout?

We experience burnout as emotional exhaustion, cynicism, and/or loss of self-efficacy. One can make the case that continuously confronting frustrations will lead to exhaustion, foster cynicism, and add to doubts about self-efficacy. If we can reduce or eliminate those barriers and frustrations, we can reduce burnout.

How do you eliminate frustrations?

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