Physician Burnout - stop asking the wrong question

Posted by Dike Drummond MD

Physician Burnout - Stop Asking the Wrong Question

In this post you will learn a fundamental mistake all doctors (and physician leaders) make about burnout and how changing the questions you ask will make all the difference.

[HINT: Physician burnout is not a problem. When you stop looking for a solution you will see the simplicity of a burnout prevention plan that really works - for you, for your family and for your organization]


I am often asked,
"What is the SOLUTION to Physician Burnout?"

On the surface it would seem a natural question for any doctor or physician leader to ask ... right? It would be swell if there was a solution to this issue -- you know, the one thing you can do one time to make physician burnout go away.

Unfortunately, that question contains an hidden assumption that messes everyone up right from the start. 

Asking for a Solution assumes physician burnout is a Problem

That assumption is where doctors and physician leaders set themselves up for struggle. Here is the truth:

  • Physician burnout is fundamentally NOT A PROBLEM
  • There is NO SOLUTION
You can prevent and treat burnout, however you will need a different word that starts with the letter "S" Read More

Tags: Physician burnout

Physician Burnout - VUCA and the Trump Effect

Posted by Dike Drummond MD

Physician Burnout VUCA and the Trump Effect

HINT: none of this is good for physician well being 

One of the core factors driving physician stress levels and physician burnout in the USA is the CHAOS in the healthcare marketplace.

What used to be a simple world of seeing patients and billing insurance has morphed into EMR's, Meaningful Use, Volume to Value, MACRA, the Affordable Care Act and a blizzard of mergers and acquisitions that have turned even the average 50 bed hospital into a major physician employer. Independence and autonomy are out the window and who knows what Big Brother will demand of us next.

This chaos is stressful and adds to the risk of physician burnout

It is hard to feel certain about the future when your crystal ball has gone dark. It is hard to feel confident about your practice and your career when you are getting a paycheck from the third different organization in the last 6 years -- as the big fish gobble the little fish in many market places.

A very similar perfect storm of accelerated change happened in the US military in the 1990's when guerrilla tactics and crazy things like IED's and body bombs displaced orderly tank battles on the modern battlefield. After all, how do you feel confident as a commander in the field when you never know what is coming around the next corner. 

The Army War College came up with a new acronym for this crazy new reality. They call it ... Read More

Tags: Physician burnout, vuca

Physician Burnout in Britain - NHS invests 19M Pounds in new "burnout service"

Posted by Dike Drummond MD

Physician Burnout – British NHS Announces World’s First Government "Burnout Service"

The British National Health Service (NHS) has been having a very rough time lately. Despite always being mentioned as one of the top healthcare systems for cost effectiveness, they are fighting a running battle with rampant physician burnout and a near mutiny by providers. Here are just a few of the low points.

Now the government is attempting a turnaround

Last week the NHS announced that beginning in 2017 it will spend £19.5 million ($24M USD) in 2017 to treat burnout in General Practitioners (GP’s) nationwide.

(Here is the full article on the announcement)

The NHS announcement said:

“The service is the world’s first nationally-funded health service of its kind for general practice, a clear signal of NHS England’s commitment to help retain a healthy and resilient workforce and in supporting GPs and GP trainees who wish to remain in or return to clinical practice after a period of ill health.”

The service is described as follows:

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Tags: Physician burnout, British NHS

Physician Burnout Cartoon - I feel the way you look

Posted by Dike Drummond MD

Physician Burnout Cartoon - and a good one

You don't see many cartoons that capture the essence of burnout ... at least not ones that are funny at the same time. Check this one out ... and feel free to share.  

Here is the cartoonist's website ... great stuff.

Read More

Tags: Physician burnout, physician burnout cartoon

Mayo Clinic CEO - fire your doctor if you suspect physician burnout

Posted by Dike Drummond MD

Mayo Clinic CEO says fire your doctor if you suspect physician burnout - during PBS interview

By Dike Drummond MD, CEO

Dr. John Noseworthy MD, CEO of the Mayo Clinic, said patients should actually fire their doctor if they suspect physician burnout during a recent TV interview on WTTW in Chicago.

This is a first on two levels

This is the first time I have ever heard a major American healthcare executive asked this obvious question ...
... the first time I have ever heard a CEO answer it.

Not only that, Dr. Noseworthy is a physician and the boss of the massive and well respected Mayo Clinic no less. (full disclosure; I graduated from Mayo Medical School in 1984)

Here's the bind

Mayo measured its internal physician burnout rate two years ago and it is 40%. Here is the article link. The physician burnout rate is the first statistic quoted in the body of this research report even though they fail to mention it in the abstract. Grab the full PDF and you will see that 3896 Mayo Clinic doctors were surveyed and 40% admitted to at least one symptom of physician burnout.

Hmmm ... Is Dr. Noseworthy saying ... that patients should be able to diagnose physician burnout and then figure out a way to dismiss their doctor ... an act that could result in up to 40% of the Mayo Clinic physician workforce being sidelined on any given office day? 

This is a can of worms indeed!

The full interview exchange is in the video at the base of this blog post. Here is my transcript of the interchange:

Read More

Tags: Physician burnout

Physician Leadership - the fundamental currency of leadership

Posted by Dike Drummond MD

Physician Leadership - the fundamental currency of leadership 

Physicians are at a distinct disadvantage when they assume leadership roles. The top-down leadership style we absorb in our training - where the doctor gives orders, the team is expected to obey and the patients to comply - doesn't work when you are leading a work team. Giving orders is a style that falls on its face when the people you are leading happen to be other physicians.

Becoming a quality physician leader depends on understanding the fundamental currency of leadership. This is all about a five letter word that begins with a "T".

Learn more in this week's video training "The Fundamental currency of physician leadership" below.



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Tags: physician leadership, physician leadership video training

Online Doctor Haters ... just gotta hate

Posted by Dike Drummond MD

Online Doctor Haters ... just gotta hate

Here at we support overstressed and burned out doctors and physician leaders every day.
We have a large internet presence with a busy website (20,000 hits a month) and lots of followers on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. And we are constantly sharing tools and support to help physicians be healthier and happier.
So when you read anything online from us it is supportive of -- and friendly to -- physicians

That drives some people crazy ... the doctor haters

One of the constants of being a sympathetic voice on behalf of physicians on the internet ... is the snark, vitriol, and downright evil trolling of the doctor haters. 
You may not be aware of this but there are a LOT of people who hate physicians with a near homicidal passion flying around the internet 24/7. One of the places they love to leave hostile messages is on any "prevent physician burnout" article or blog post.

Here's the latest sick example

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Tags: doctor haters

Stop Physician Burnout - Unconscious Gender Bias in the Healthcare Workplace - Part One

Posted by Dike Drummond MD

Stop Physician Burnout - Unconscious Gender Bias in the Healthcare Workplace - Part One

In this blog post we will show you a sixth cause of physician burnout that is unique to women physicians and invisible to the men who share the very same workplace

Here at we have helped hundreds of physicians recover from burnout since our launch in 2011. Early in that process we began to notice patterns in the specific sources of stress that drive doctors into burnout's downward spiral. The patterns eventually revealed the four main causes of physician burnout and recent leadership research has revealed a 5th major cause. We have continued to coach and train well over 10,000 physicians how to recognize and mitigate for these risks.

Another pattern is emerging and revealing itself as the 6th cause of physician burnout.

This is a gender specific cause effecting only women physicians in the healthcare workplace. The source is nothing new, I am certain gender bias in healthcare has been around since Hippocrates, what is notable from my perspective as a coach -- is the high frequency with which unconscious gender bias plays an independent role as a cause of physician burnout in women.

Men and women are different. Different neuroanatomy, different upbringing and unconscious programming, different internal hormonal environment and different cultural norms for how a man or woman is supposed to behave. We already know men and women experience physician burnout differently.

Let's start by acknowledging two things:

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Tags: Physician burnout

Physician Burnout - why most physician wellness retreats fail

Posted by Dike Drummond MD

Physician Burnout - why most physician wellness retreats fail

Here is the dirty little secret about most physician retreats -- t hey don't work ... pure and simple.

And here is what I mean by "work". You choose a retreat - rather than a straight vacation - because you are longing for something to change about your practice.

But three months after your retreat experience, you look around and notice nothing is any different. Nothing has changed. It is the same old grind and the same feelings of "I don't know how much longer I can keep going like this".

You eventually admit you are still stuck in Einstein's Insanity definition. ARRRGGGHHH

Here's why that happens.

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Tags: physician wellness retreat

Physician Burnout Epidemic Demands Changes in Current CME Policy

Posted by Dike Drummond MD

Physician Burnout Epidemic Demands Changes in Current CME Policy

Have you ever tried to get CME authorization for a non-clinical physician training? It is the most frustrating example of a Catch 22 you will find in modern healthcare.

Succinctly put - if a training directly benefits the attendee and their quality of life, it is ineligible for CME credits

If you want to snore your way through, "Common rashes in primary care" or any one of the incomprehensible updates coming from the bleeding edges of medical research ... the CME credits are no more difficult to obtain than a Grande Americano in Starbucks.

[I will obviously acknowledge that clinical, patient-centered CME is the core of maintaining your clincal skills long term ... and let's all admit clinical education is NOT ENOUGH to produce a happy, healthy, balanced and productive modern doctor.]

We recently applied for 9 hours of CME credit for our Heart of the Healer Retreat coming up in September. We were given 6 hours of credit and denied the remaining three specifically because,"the training will benefit the physician attendees".

The burnout epidemic is a powerful sign that current medical education is failing physicians in the front lines - in medical school, residency AND in CME training for practicing doctors. 

Physicians everywhere need burnout prevention training now.

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