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Doctor Burnout: What can you do?

So I have just had two weeks off. While it was filled with sun, paddleboarding, biking and sightseeing, it was also filled with reflection. The cliche is true: you do need time away to see things in a different light. When I am off, I find my mind "quiets" and I pay attention to things more carefully. On this trip I started thinking about a "pattern of threes". When something comes up three times, you should likely pay attention to it. This time it was the topic of physician burnout. In conversations and in media it came up three times on my trip. Maybe it was because I was looking for it, as I have been thinking about it a fair bit, but the random story on CBC, the offhand comment from a physician leader and wonderful discussion with Julia Moore at The Centre for Implementation all highlighted the same story: we have a burnout problem with our doctors and healthcare providers.

It is much like education. Recall from your years in the school system how the best school had energized, engaged teachers with a leader who cared for them. The schools that struggled did not have teachers that felt cared for - so how could they care for students? The same issue exists with our doctors. We expect a lot from our physicians: to be leaders, mentors, caregivers and colleagues, and we expect it right from the get go out of medical school. But, as a system we do little to support the learning and self-development needed to hone these adaptive skills. Doctors are often more "outside the system" and called "contractors" - but that is how we set it up. The system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets.

So, how can we better support doctors to build their adaptive skills? How do we support them to help the thinking of others? How do we help them run their clinics in a way that impacts patients in the best way? My theory is that we have to offer the time and space to allow providers to grow and adapt just as we all do in our career. To that end, we are running a Cognitive Coaching cohort in October with several leading edge and reflective physicians participating. They will learn how to support others in their thinking - which rapidly builds rapport and trust, and really gives the practical skills to get the most out of others be it a patient, a staff member, a colleague or a student. Hear how one of these physicians led herself out of burnout and back to loving medicine by focusing on her own development in my first podcast: Sign up today for our first Cognitive Coaching course to build your own adaptive skills to prevent burn out from the challenges of leading a team, supporting patients with change, being a teacher and a good colleague. Find the space to just practice medicine...

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