The seven holes in medical education that set doctors up for burnout

Posted by Dike Drummond MD

Our physician coaching team and I have experience with thousands of doctors over the last 13 years who've come to us burned out, exhausted and wondering how much longer they can keep going like this.

We have developed a structured method to help them recover from burnout through a laser focus on new actions aimed at building their Ideal Practice.

We have known for years that these new actions cluster into seven distinct groups.

It's recently become clear to me that each of these seven tool sets are essential to health and well-being in modern Physicians and all seven are missing from our current medical education process.


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Now it seems strange to me that medical school, residency and fellowship would fail to teach the skills required to create a practice that provides long-term fulfillment after graduation. Why is this happening?

It turns out that these skills are not required to make it through the medical education process.

And they are absolutely crucial to building a fulfilling life around your choice to be a doctor

These seven missing skill sets are a giant hole in doctors education that leaves us all vulnerable to burn out and all of its complications. The absence of these skills is as dangerous as not giving a hard hat to a construction worker, or failing to supply a bulletproof vest to a Marine on combat duty.

If we only give you the tools for clinical care within your specialty and leave you with no means to identify and build your ideal practice or construct a meaningful and balanced life ... you are being thrown to the wolves - especially in today's profit-driven and short-staffed medical environment.

These skills are the key to a long, healthy career as a practicing physician.

Here are the seven missing skill sets of the medical education process

1) Skills to define, build, construct and defend your personal definition of your IDEAL PRACTICE.
We learn how to survive residency, but clarity on your definition of your Ideal Practice is left off the curriculum. Out in practice, most doctors fall prey to the conditions of their employment contract, especially now that 74% of physicians are employees. We must each learn to find wiggle room in our job description for the meaning and purpose required to fulfill our destiny as Lightworkers.

2) Practice efficiency skills to Get Home Sooner.
Proven tools to get your work done faster and get home sooner - without working harder. Tools to lower the energy drain at work.

3) Life Balance and Boundaries Skills.
Simple tools to build more life balance into every day, week and month. Tools to increase your ability to recharge in your time off.

4) The skills of mindfulness, presence and emotional continence in the midst of a busy patient care work day. We call this Eye of the Storm lessons. Our One Minute Mindfulness training is research-proven to lower stress in practicing physicians with a single breath.

5) Tools to Manage Your Boss - especially if you are an employee physician.
How to build relationships of influence up and across the chain of command, rather than get labeled disruptive. How to get what you need for your ideal practice even when you are not the boss.

6) Leadership Power Tools to become a more effective leader, release your Lone Ranger programming and stop working so hard. This skill set is the exact opposite of doctor's traditional leadership style - the give-orders-and-expect-obedience-paradigm. Get your team on board sharing the load with servant leadership skills everyone enjoys.

7) Proven Job Search Skills
And last but perhaps most important -- the skills to recognize when job change is the best move, then find, interview, negotiate, contract and onboard yourself into a new and much better position. For a physician who is facile and comfortable with job search, this is an incredible job market and there really are greener pastures on all sides.

I am not nominating this as the comprehensive list of skill sets that would benefit modern physicians.

Please add your own missing skill nominees in the comments below.


Putting the missing skill sets to use

Using your Ideal Practice Description as a target in your take-back-your-practice action plan - 70% of our clients have been able to recover from burnout and create at least a 70% match for their ideal practice without changing jobs.

For those who need to change jobs, a single job search gets them to a 70% match.

Bottom line, there is a proven plan of action to restoring meaning and purpose to your practice and restoring faith in your decision to go to medical school in the first place. So that 20 years from now you have no regrets and a big smile on your face!




What additional skills would you add to our "missing" list?


Tags: stop physician burnout, medical education