10 Top Questions on Physician Burnout

At the 60th anniversary of the American Hospital Medical Education (AHME) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, our poster on physician resident burnout and emotional intelligence addressed the heart of a growing problem. Many residency programs are now seeing and acknowledging this issue of physician burnout. There were many questions on different topics as people came by to view our poster. Here are some of the questions and answers:

1- Is the burnout and EI intervention universal and applicable to any program?

Answer: YES. It is applicable to any program. It has general principles with particular applications specific for each program but with similar outcomes.

2- Does it target residents and faculty members?

Answer: YES. Studies have shown that it is better to target faculty and residents.

3- When should the intervention be applied?

Answer: As early as possible but it can be implemented at different levels of training. Obviously the earlier residents are aware of it the better the outcomes.

4- Can it be done through distance learning? Or is it only on site?

Answer: Either or. We have had success with on-site interventions as well as e-learning modules. The program is such that participants can do online training through webinars, courses and other interactive modalities.

5- How many residents can it target? What if we have a big program?

Answer: This program can target as little as one resident to as many as two thousand if need be. The larger the program, the more the interventions are timed and structured in such a way that allows everyone to benefit the most in a timely, coordinated and monitored approach.

6- Residents do not have the time nor control over their schedule to be able to engage in something that takes a long time. How applicable is this truly in the real world of residencies?

Answer: Very. The life of attendings are busier than residents, and time management and control only gets worse with our work. The interventions do not take much time to implement. The options are anywhere between half a day workshops to a yearly interventional curriculum. Time is one of the constraints, and this program maximizes the time it has, and it is very efficient.

7- How long before you see results from the intervention?

Answer: Results are immediate on the short term and carry on for the long term. The first step in fighting any disease is awareness. Once we increase awareness and introduce people to EI, the transformation is almost instantaneous and immediate, with palpable and measurable positive long term effects.

8- Most of what is being pushed now is wellness? How does wellness factor into what you are doing?

Answer: Wellness is a huge component of what we do. It is an integral part of the program. Emotional Intelligence (EI) techniques are the “chemotherapy” to the “cancer” of burnout. But without wellness, without physical, economical, mental, psycho-social and emotional well-being, no amount of therapy will help. So we use wellness to maintain EI and combat burnout, and we use EI to combat burnout and its consequences.

9- Why are you using Emotional Intelligence?

Answer: Because it works. The proof is in the pudding. The literature is filled with studies showing that it works. EI is easy to implement, results are very palpable and immediate, is very flexible, measurable and adaptable. It is used in everything we do.

10- Is it a hassle to set the program up?

Answer: Not in the least. We identify the program’s goals and then we develop a program based on their need, their abilities and capabilities, and their desired outcomes. We do the work and we go onsite as needed and implement it. Integrating it into programs is very easy and very friendly.

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