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Clinician focus group meetings

24 Jul 2016

By: Ralph Yates, MD, Chief Medical Officer

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It was my privilege to attend all nine of the recent medical staff focus groups May 9 to 11. A total of 68 clinicians attended. Each meeting was scheduled for 75 minutes, but generally lasted 90 minutes or longer. All groups were facilitated by Larry Harmon, PhD, someone well-known by many through PLI, and a national expert in the area of physician burnout.

The groups were intentionally varied and included primary and specialty care physicians and advanced practitioners. Because of the unique dynamics, each group had its own personality and perspective. All groups spoke to the same fundamental issues involving their cultural environment, time and efficiency and recognition. Other issues raised included input into decision making, pace and scope of change, medical documentation demands necessitating “pajama time” averaging three hours a day, the PSA system, excessive paging, poor communication with leadership and limited recognition.

Finding out the degree of brownout/burnout of our medical staff and metrics for addressing and monitoring this national problem was the primary reason behind the focus groups. Burnout has been defined as loss of efficacy or disengagement, emotional fatigue, and cynicism/de-personalism. Brownout is softer, where the individual is fatigued, loses joy but is still engaged and committed to their patients.

A significant factor in mitigating this phenomenon, very much in line with the national research, was the degree of collegial support and trust individuals felt. Support and trust is an underlying energy flowing through an individual’s experience. It is that feeling that “I know my team has my back," and something we want to foster at Salem Health.

As we begin the process of analyzing the legitimate concerns around the current PSA and paging systems, I want all who attended to know that much of what is now in our physician engagement A3 was catalyzed from these meetings. They will continue to give us direction as we move forward both this year and through the next five years.

You have been heard. I will keep you appraised of our work both personally and through Common Ground. However, it is the recognition of this constant culture of trust and collegiality which will be the focus for us. It is our fervent intent that restoration and reinforcement of both will be apparent to each of you. Please let me know how we are doing.

All my best,