Physician Resilience – a Stronger Canary is Never Enough

Posted by Dike Drummond MD

Physician Resilience – a stronger canary is never enough

 In my work with thousands of over-stressed physicians and over 140 healthcare organizations, I have learned one lesson over and over -

Resilience training alone is not sufficient to rein in the epidemic of physician burnout.

If you believe like I do that physicians are the canary in the coal mine of medicine.

Then it is clear the epidemic of physician burnout is an indictment of the conditions of the mine, not the resilience of the canary.

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Organization-Wide Burnout Prevention Strategy

If you focus on physician resilience training and don’t de-stress the workplace at the same time, you are missing half the leverage points to prevent physician burnout. You are focused only on building a stronger canary and sending the message that it is every provider is on their own – no one has their back – on this job site.

I define resilience training as the acquisition of any burnout prevention tool the physician puts to their own individual use. The tool increases the physician’s resilience in the face of the stresses of their practice and workplace systems.

Training to promote physician resilience has value, however that value is limited by the following three factors:


Tags: Physician burnout, canary in a coal mine, physician resilience

Are Physicians the Canary in the Coal Mine of Medicine

Posted by Dike Drummond MD

Are Physicians the Canary in the Coal Mine of Medicine?

Back in the day, coal miners always carried a canary with them in a small cage whenever they would go down in the mine. The canary is a very talkative bird, always singing and tweeting in a constant background noise. Canaries have one more characteristic important to a miner.

When there is bad air in the mine, the canary’s sensitive lungs will cause it to drop over dead before the miners notice any shortness of breath. When the bird stops singing … the miners head for the surface … fast. It is a life saving maneuver.

Here in 2013 as we start to implement the provisions of Obamacare and projections of physician shortages as high as 91,500 by 2020 come from respected sources, I believe we have a similar “coal mine” situation in healthcare.

Unfortunately, physicians appear to be the canary in the mine.


Tags: dike drummond, Physician burnout, physician coach, physician stress, physician shortage, canary in a coal mine, obamacare

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