Physician Burnout Vulnerability and Group Culture

Posted by Dike Drummond MD

Physician Burnout, Vulnerability and Your Group's Culture

I am often asked if I am familiar with the work of Brene Brown and especially her tremendously popular TED videos "The power of vulnerability" and "Listening to shame". These are fabulous introductions to the topic of vulnerability that can help all of us who see patients on two distinct levels.

Patient Vulnerability:
I highly recommend these videos to all physicians because vulnerability and shame are woven through any authentic healing encounter. It is important to understand and navigate the patient's shame and vulnerability whenever you enter the exam room.

Physician Vulnerability:
Brene Brown's work is also immediately relevant to physician burnout. Vulnerability and shame are experience all of us feel personally when our practice becomes too much. This is especially true for male physicians because of our habit of not reaching out for help.

I love Brene Brown's work and it is incomplete.

She leaves out the most important source of the experience of being vulnerable for physicians.

New call-to-action

She points out the willingness to be vulnerable is an act of courage. This is true for most of us. If you speak your truth openly and with transparency, you will probably feel like you are being brave ... like you are taking a risk. Why is that?

Dr. Brown believes it is an innate feature of our human nature. We naturally feel vulnerable when we tell our truth. I disagree.

There are outside forces that create this fear of shame. 

The source of this sense of vulnerability is hidden in plain sight if you remember that you speak the truth within a larger context.

Being open and transparent is only being "vulnerable" within an abusive culture

Tags: Physician burnout, physician bullying


Physician Bullying – Doctor on Doctor Harrassment

Posted by Dike Drummond MD

Physician Bullying is a surprisingly large issue especially for medical students and recent residency graduates according to an article I just found on BMJ Careers’ website. This is a well written article with an 8 article bibliography summarizing research on Physician Bullying. They even document the following physician bullying types.

Types of physician bullying

  • Spreading malicious rumours or insulting someone (particularly on the grounds of age, race, sex, disability, sexual orientation, and religion or belief)
  • Copying memos that are critical of someone to others who do not need to know
  • Ridiculing or demeaning someone—picking on them or setting them up to fail
  • Exclusion or victimisation
  • Unfair treatment
  • Overbearing supervision or other misuse of power or position
  • Unwelcome sexual advances—touching, standing too close, display of offensive material, asking for sexual favours, making decisions on the basis of sexual advances being accepted or rejected
  • Making threats or comments about job security without foundation
  • Deliberately undermining a competent worker by overloading and constant criticism
  • Preventing individuals progressing by intentionally blocking promotion or training opportunities

Here’s a link to the full article and thank you to Lorna Powell, the article’s author for putting this issue on my radar.


Have you ever been bullied?
If so, what happened and is it any one of the physician bullying types mentioned above?


Tags: Physician burnout, physician stress, doctor burnout, physician bullying


Subscribe to Email Updates