Children's Hospital Colorado

Understanding Physician Burnout (S1:E26)

Physicians work to protect their young patients from various forms of burnout, but they don't often explore the causes of their own emotional exhaustion. Over the past several years, the prevalence of burnout in physicians has increased, especially in general pediatrics. Compassion fatigue, lack of autonomy and time-consuming administrative tasks that divert attention away from patient care are all potential causes of medical burnout.

The idea of physician burnout has a stigma attached to it, but medical providers are becoming more comfortable addressing this important topic. Reshaping leadership strategies, identification of burnout and simply talking about the struggles burnt out doctors face are all excellent steps toward reducing the stigma.

Listen to pediatric medical experts discuss how to cope with physician burnout

In this episode, we explore the topic of physician burnout with Jenny Reese, MD, Inpatient Medical Director at Children's Hospital Colorado and Director of the Resilience Program at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. We are also joined by Sonja O'Leary, MD, Medical Director of Denver Health's School-Based Health Centers Team.

Drs. Reese and O'Leary share their personal experiences with burnout and offer valuable insights on what physician burnout is, its effects and how hospitals can reduce burnout by implementing preventative measures.

In this episode, our experts discuss:

  • The definition of physician burnout.
  • The golden measurement of occupational burnout, the Maslach Burnout Inventory.
  • The three main domains of physician burnout.
  • The prevalence of physician burnout according to the numbers.
  • The trends surrounding physician burnout over time.
  • Possible reasons for burnout among physicians increasing year after year.
  • Their own experiences with identifying and solving burnout issues in their respective careers.
  • The effects and realities behind compassion fatigue and the second victim phenomenon among physicians.
  • If and how physician burnout differs according to a physician's gender and parental role.
  • Why it's important to implement reflective supervision in the workplace.
  • The importance of looking at systems, including electronic health records and how productivity is being measured.
  • Actions to prevent, normalize and reduce the stigma of medical burnout among providers.