Wellness is the ability to thrive in the face of adversity and enjoy a heightened sense of joy and peace regardless of one’s circumstances.
- Dian Ginsberg, AAPL Wellness Director
We take pride in our commitment to physician wellness at the individual and institutional levels. As a physician leader, you can make a difference at your organization to combat physician burnout and create a healthy environment that promotes safety and provides help for those who need it. Not sure where to start? It starts here. This page is your go-to repository for specially selected wellness resources that can support your personal wellness journey as well as that of your organization. Don’t let wellness take the back burner at your workplace any longer. Burnout is an institutional problem, but a physician leader like you can start paving the way toward a healthier and happier tomorrow for health care.
As part of our wellness campaign, we've specially selected the following six topics to focus on. Subscribe for email updates to receive alerts when new resources are added.
The conversation on wellness is vast and complicated, but many cite physician burnout as an institutional issue that health care organizations need to acknowledge in support of their employees. Consider implementing a rapid response team that takes action when an employee shows signs of burnout or start having debrief meetings after especially distressing cases to encourage conversation and healing. A physician leader like you who lead the charge and create a workplace that emphasizes wellness can make a world of difference for struggling physicians and lead to better patient outcomes. Explore the following resources and start thinking about how you can create a wellness task force or bring in an outside expert to provide training.
Physician burnout has been called many things: an epidemic, a patient safety issue, even a moral injury. Many physicians feel too ashamed or embarrassed to ask for help and suffer in silence until it’s too late. Suicide rates among physicians are twice that of the general population and the risk factors are even worse for doctors in specific specialties, such as anesthesiology and psychiatry, or who are going through a transition and have little support, like those graduating from medical school or approaching retirement. Risk factors also include identifying as part of the LGBTQIA community, being female, having a history of mental or physical illness, and being a current or former abuser of drugs or alcohol.
Whatever you choose to call it, burnout is a serious problem in the health care industry, but we hear your Code Lavender, and your organization doesn’t have to face it alone. Whether you’re personally going through burnout or are leading a wellness initiative at your health care organization, we have tools, strategies, and support that can help. Learn to identify the stages of burnout, explore empathy and mindfulness exercises and training, or consider having staff take the Maslach Burnout Inventory to measure their levels of burnout.
Health care workers come from all different backgrounds and serve hundreds of thousands of patients with their own unique histories and backgrounds. Having an inclusive and diverse workforce and leadership team is imperative to the success of any organization, but so is considering how diversity and wellness are intertwined. Physicians who belong to a minority racial group, are women, or identify part of the LGBTQIA community face certain hurdles and experience stress and thoughts of suicide at higher rates than the general population. Many physicians also face unique challenges when serving underserved populations, such as those in rural towns, who are immigrants without green cards, or who come from a community with a historical mistrust of medicine. They want to provide the best care for these people but may face hurdles that impede their efforts and lead to burnout.
Your responsibility as a physician leader is to stay informed, start conversations, and lead initiatives that help those in marginalized groups whether they’re the patient or the provider.
The word ‘mindfulness’ can often come off as some esoteric, yogic concept to those who know little about it. Simply put, mindfulness is a way to alter our relationship to our thoughts – the practice of having a nonjudgmental and compassionate look at your life and what you’re experiencing in real-time. Mindfulness has been shown to improve symptoms of anxiety and depression and can result in numerous physical benefits like lowered blood pressure, reduced GI pain frequency, reduced chronic pain, and improved sleep.
Learn more about mindfulness and how giving resources to your team, or holding a mindfulness training, can reduce stress among physicians whose days are often hectic and feel nonstop. With a few mindfulness exercises, the physician can begin to truly heal thyself.
Going into the medical field isn’t for the faint-hearted, but constant, unyielding stress can take a toll on the mental and physical health of even the most resilient people. Show your team that it isn’t on them alone to reduce stress – your organization can start fostering an environment based on wellness right now. Give them access to resources that explore stress reduction techniques, from exercise to meditation, and encourage your staff to set healthy boundaries such as not checking email when they’re on vacation. Of course, leaders best influence others by example, so consider reviewing the following in order to manage your own stress and respect the work-life balance and boundaries of your colleagues.
As a physician leader, you’re not overhead or ‘just a boss’; you inspire others to do their best, to create positive change, and lead healthy, balanced lives. But how do you know if you’re inspiring others in a beneficial way? That’s where changing your mindset will help. You have the power to practice and adopt a mindset that benefits you and your team. Research shows that optimistic leaders who connect with others and seek progress, as opposed to perfection, do better in their careers and are more likely to be promoted. There is also the servant leader who sees themselves as being the humble servant to their staff in order to bring out their leadership potential. Whatever you seek to accomplish as a leader, you’ll find that shifting your mindset even in the smallest way can make a world of difference.