Physician burnout, stress and performance - Video Training

Posted by Dike Drummond MD

physician-burnout-prevention-video-physician-stress-good-stress-performanceThe Relationship Between Physician Burnout, Stress and Performance - Video Training

In the Burnout Proof Live Training I always field the question, "Isn't stress a good thing too?". Here's the answer ...

It depends

Stress can motivate or destroy performance. It can drive a physician to do the best for their patients becoming the personification of the Hippocratic Oath ... or leave them curled on the floor in the fetal position too burned out to take another step. It does all of these things depending on where you are on the Stress vs. Performance Curve.

Here is a short video training on the relationship between Physician Burnout, Stress and Performance:




The stress versus performance curve has massive implications for physician leaders.

You MUST develop the ability to detect your people's stress levels on any given day at work. 

You cannot assume that putting more pressure on them will drive performance. If they are on the right hand side of the stress vs. performance curve, your pressure will drive them off the edge of the cliff into paralysis, a meltdown or worse.

Let your awareness scan your projects right now

  • Where is it safe to apply pressure from your position as the leader?
  • Where is the best course to back off instead?



Now that you see the stress vs. performance curve, how will this change your actions as a leader?


Video Transcript:

The Relationship between Physician Burnout, Stress and Performance

Hi. Dr. Dike Drummond here from And in this short video, I’m going to show you the difference between good and bad stress and an actual graph that relates stress to physician performance. It’s really important that you understand where you are in the graph so you don’t end up taking the last bit of stress over the edge as your last straw.

Every time I do a live physician burnout training, somebody asks me, “Well, Dike, isn’t there such a thing as good stress?” And the answer is yes.

Stress can be good at all depends on where you are on the stress versus performance graph. So, let me just show that to you over here. There’s the bell shaped curve that relates stress to physician performance. On the left hand side where there isn’t very much stress, you don’t get much performance. As a matter of fact, people can get bored and check out.

But as you increase the stress on the person, give them a deadline, ask them if they’ve completed the task, you’ll see that performance increases to a peak. But then if I continue to apply stress, performance drops off rather dramatically, a far side “cliff” of performance. So, there is such a thing as good stress. It all depends on where the person is on the graph on that day.

Now, here’s the big problem. Here’s where I think most healthcare work teams are sitting in an average office day. Here’s the graph. Look at that orange line. Yeah, I think their past the peak and on the downward side.

So, if that’s true for you or your team on any given workday and I continue to apply stress, what happens? You fall off the cliff. You could completely decompensate. I have be brought into organizations because a high producer was found curled in the fetal position on the bathroom floor, completely overwhelmed by the stress of that particular day.

So, the difference between good stress and bad stress depends on where you are on the curve. The problem is that as a physician, you’ve been trained specifically to ignore your stress levels, to not be aware of them at all. So, this is one of the key leadership skills as you move forward in your practice, to notice what your stress level is today. Even better, notice what your team’s stress level is today so you can figure out whether today you apply a little more pressure to get a little more performance or you back off the pressure. And that actually improves the team’s performance.

So, there it is. The connection between good and bad stress depends on where you on the curve. Notice that first before you put anymore pressure on your team. That’s it for now. Keep breathing and have a great rest of your day.


Tags: Physician Burnout, prevent physician burnout, physician burnout video, physician stress