Four questions reveal the fundamental source of employee physician burnout

Posted by Dike Drummond MD

Employee physicians are on a tilted playing field and physician burnout is the result

Why are 63% of US physicians suffering from at least one symptom of burnout as they see patients today?

How did we get to this point where you are more likely to be burned out than not?

  • Let me show you the fundamental mismatch that has caused this burnout epidemic

  • And four questions you can use to reveal the mismatch in your own practice and assess your risk of burnout.


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I believe the dramatic increase in the physician-as-employee is largely to blame for this burnout epidemic.

442509_SMJPG_4WW43059DW028145JPhysicians working inside a "healthcare" delivery organization run by non-physician managers creates a fundamental mismatch at the core of the business relationship.

That mismatch, that tilt of the playing field, is at the heart of our burnout epidemic.

It puts all physicians at a distinct, structural disadvantage by trapping us between a rock and a hard place. 

Every day we engage in a form of trench warfare between:

  • Our calling / instinct / drive / passion to take the best care of our patients

  • Our employers mandate / structure / focus / technology in pursuit of harmonizing the Profit and Loss Statement.  

In this battle, burnout tells you who is winning and losing.


Just notice your own experience:

Scenario One:

How often do you have to modify what you know to be the best treatment options for your patients, because of concerns from administration: accept the second or third best option because of money?

Scenario Two:

How often does your administration modify their financial concerns because the best care is not the most cost effective .... its just the right thing to do?


Are these two scenarios in balance - as they should be - or does one side win every single time?


Are you a physician leader who is finding this line of reasoning uncomfortable or think I am being hostile? Good. We need to talk. It does not have to be this way. 60% burnout rate is not mandatory or inevitable. Let's talk about a real corporate burnout prevention strategy. We are twelve years, 40,000 doctors and 175 organizations ahead of you. Lots to share.

** Is your practice at risk? Are you in danger? **


Q 1:
Who wrote your current CONTRACT and who designed your current JOB DESCRIPTION?

What role did you play in creating these two documents?


Q 2:
What goals are that contract and that FTE definition designed to achieve?

  • Your personal goals for your Ideal Practice and your larger life?
  • or the business goals of your organization?


Q 3:
What are your personal goals for your practice?

What difference would you like to make for your patients?

How would you like to feel about your day-to-day investment of time and energy in this job?

How easy is it to make that difference here? 


Q 4:
What is your current Practice Satisfaction Level on a 1 - 10 scale?
(anything less that a 6 is cause for concern going forward)


Look back at your answers above and notice the fundamental mismatch.

The playing field is tilted. You are always running up a steep hill at work.

The game is rigged in favor of your employer hitting their business goals while your ideal  job/career/practice/life goals fall by the wayside.

Things are out of balance now, because they were out of balance from the very beginning of this "relationship".

Under these conditions, burnout is "normal" for the majority of physicians over the course of their career.
Sooner or later this lack of alignment will drive you to the point of "I'm not sure how much longer I can keep going like this."

Is it time for you to restore some balance to this equation?

All you have to do is stop tolerating your present circumstances.

Are you ready to take back your practice?

Simple tweaks can make a huge difference in your practice satisfaction and quality of life - at work and home.

We have been helping doctors build their Ideal Practice for 12 years now. There is always wiggle room to get more of what you want in your job. These days that takes active measures and a clear strategy to modify your job so it is more satisfying for you - especially if you are an employee. 

It also takes the tools and confidence to interview for a new job any time your  current position is not at least a 70% match for your ideal practice

Join Us in the BurnoutProofMD 3-Layer Physician Support Ecosystem

Let us show you the TOOLS, COACHING and COMMUNITY OF SUPPORT you can lean on to restore balance to this equation. Everything we teach comes from our 12 years and 40,000 doctor experience of helping physicians recognize and prevent burnout.

Your 30-Day Test Drive of the Whole Ecosystem is FREE

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The BurnoutProofMD 3-Layer Physician Support Ecosystem

~ Our Top 5 Online Video Trainings give you the TOOLS to build a more Ideal Practice
Recognize and prevent burnout. Get home sooner. Build life balance. Learn to manage your boss and be the eye of the storm. And our job search formula training.

~ Weekly Group COACHING to tweak the tools to match your situation
You are never more than a week from live coaching support.

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24/7 website support. Ask questions and celebrate all wins. We have your back.

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It all comes together in a unique ECOSYSTEM of "we have your back" for doctors in these challenging times.

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"Dike opened my eyes to new ideas, new resources, and challenged me to permit myself to dream about my ideal life and career. He taught me several ways to deal with my current stress by making small steps starting with my reactions to competing priorities and time demands. I see and feel a light at the end of this tunnel. I am extremely grateful.“ 

~ Michelle R. MD 

"I've found a group of friends that I enjoy connecting with. To hear their stories and struggles with the practice of medicine is eye-opening for me. But more importantly, watching physicians make decisions and changes to transform their lives and careers is awe-inspiring. I've become a better person, physician and I hope, a better leader because of my participation in Dike's coaching. For that, I'm most grateful."

~ J. B. MD



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  • How do these four questions help you better understand your current situation?
  • What new action will you take now that you can see your situation from a different perspective.




Tags: stop physician burnout