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Want to Retain More Physicians? Start by Focusing on Burnout.

Want to Retain More Physicians? Start by Focusing on Burnout.

We recently observed National Doctors’ Day in the United States, which was the finale of National Physicians Week. During this week we celebrate physicians and the critical impact their work has on the lives of their patients and patients’ loved ones. Evidence shows that this population is both distinctive and critical to healthcare organizations’ success, and requires specific attention to understand their experience and needs. 

As we recognize the contributions of this unique employee population, we must also highlight the unique challenges physicians face in today’s workplace and the types of resources and support that can make a difference.

In July 2023, Perceptyx surveyed more than 730 physicians about their current experiences in the workplace. We found that 1 in 4 physicians wanted to leave their roles in the next 12 months and 1 in 10 wanted to leave the industry altogether. When asked why they were considering leaving, physicians cite many varying reasons such as staffing shortages and long hours, but the number one reason cited for leaving is burnout (more than 20%). Other research supports this trend, where the American Medical Association cited 52% of respondents are experiencing burnout, which is up from the prior survey (4% increase).  

Physician burnout is not only important to the well-being of physicians, but can also affect patient care including access to adequate care, patient safety, and quality. Research indicates that burnout is believed to accumulate an annual cost of $4.6 billion to the healthcare system, primarily due to turnover and reduced work hours among primary care physicians, placing the heaviest burden on resources.

Addressing Burnout in Healthcare

Job burnout is the result of too much work-related stress over time. There are many risk factors that contribute to burnout in the healthcare industry. Our research found that addressing burnout for physicians and advanced care providers lies in resources and support. Physicians want an avenue to voice concerns to leadership and a supportive network to lean on when times are exceedingly stressful. When physicians have adequate resources and support (i.e., when leadership listens to their concerns, values their input, and instills confidence in senior leadership), they are less likely to experience burnout and more likely to want to stay in their jobs.

It takes time for job-related stress to build up to full-fledged burnout, but there are protective factors that may help interrupt the vicious cycle. Everyone throughout an organization can help address burnout. Here are some ways everyone can help prevent burnout in healthcare organizations:   

  • What can individuals do?

Explore healthy ways of coping with stress that work for you. Learn the signs that you may be feeling “crispy” and try not to wait until you feel fully “burnt” out to address your stress.

  • What can teams do together?

Prioritize being supportive and responsive to teammates so that everyone feels supported and collaboration is improved.

  • What can people leaders do for those they manage?

Support each individual’s needs for healthy work-life balance. Ensure physicians understand not only the ‘what’ when decisions are made, but the ‘why’.

  • What can organizations do?

Make preventing burnout a company priority. Focus on ease of practice to reduce stress, improve work/life balance, and enhance well-being.

Protecting physicians and all advanced caregivers against burnout is key to retaining top talent in the healthcare industry. Perceptyx has deep expertise in helping healthcare organizations apply employee listening and people analytics to monitor workplace factors like well-being and burnout, develop the right responsive actions, and deliver a world-class employee experience. This includes a unique Physician Experience survey including items addressing leadership and management, organizational culture, staff effectiveness, patient care, and more.

For more information on how your healthcare organization can utilize the Perceptyx platform to address burnout and other acute factors in the healthcare employee experience, schedule a meeting with a member of our team.

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