Friday, April 01, 2016

Leadership must address hospitalist burnout

What makes a strong hospitalist program? The most important determinant (my subjective impression, mind you) is a team of happy, professionally satisfied doctors. This results in lower turnover, less reliance on locum help and less schedule chaos. But leadership has not paid enough attention here.

I've been watching the hospitalist movement for years as it has tried to mature. I've listened closely to the conversations about leadership along the way. The recurring theme has been a hard line approach to metrics. The metrics are artificial and the approach mainly negative. If you don't perform in a certain way you are talked to. One too many times and consequences ensue. It becomes professionally deflating after a while. I've heard more than one speaker at hospitalist meetings imply that if you don't like that type of environment you might want to find other work. Well, surprise, surprise, that's just what a lot of hospitalists seem to be doing.

A recent article in Today's Hospitalist addresses this concern and cites a study of physicians at Mayo Clinic showing a strong correlation between burnout and how they rate their bosses. Numerous leadership attributes are listed which, according to the study findings, are strong deterrents to burnout. These have been missing from the conversation up to now.

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