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Special Grand Rounds Nov. 27: Resiliency to combat burnout

11 Nov 2018

Speaker J. Bryan Sexton to address isolation, exhaustion, self-doubt

By: Ralph Yates, DO, Chief Medical Officer

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Ralph Yates DOSalem Health Hospitals & Clinics has taken the lead to understand and address the causes behind burnout in our profession. In fact, to my knowledge, we are the only health care organization in the country that’s done medical staff focus groups about this issue two years in a row. We’ve conducted 18 focus groups with 119 physicians.

Clinician burnout has three components: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and a decreased sense of personal accomplishment (M. Catherine Sargent, 2011). Early signs, as described by Quick et al., include declining professional performance and morale, physical and somatic symptoms and behavioral changes. More advanced signs include self-medication and serious self-doubt.

Through our focus groups, I’ve seen that this often all boils down to loneliness and/or professional isolation. But how can that be? Clinicians often see 30 patients per day and interact with a whole host of other practitioners. I’ll tell you how. You, as clinicians, are being tasked with so many things that the simple human interactions between colleagues don’t take place as much as they used to. Often times, these interactions cease to exist altogether.

The attendance and response to our most recent town hall was overwhelming and that tells me that you, our medical staff, want to be more engaged and are looking for guidance. I’m excited about this and I want you to know that we’re listening.

As part of executive leadership’s continuing commitment to enhance the lives of our medical staff, we’ve hired J. Bryan Sexton, PhD, to speak with you about burnout and building workforce resilience. He is currently associate professor and director of Duke Patient Safety Center at Duke University Health System. Here’s a bit from his bio:

“Dr. Sexton has captured the wisdom of frontline caregivers through rigorous assessments of safety culture, teamwork, and workforce resilience. His research instruments have been used around the world in over 3,000 hospitals, in 30 countries. His current R01 grant from NIH is a randomized clinical trial of resilience training.  He has studied teamwork, safety and resilience in high risk environments such as the commercial aviation cockpit, the operating room, and the intensive care unit, under funding from NIH, NASA, AHRQ, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Swiss National Science Foundation, and the Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz Foundation.

With specializations in organizational assessment, teamwork, survey development, and quantitative methods, he spends his time teaching, mentoring, conducting research, and finding practical ways of getting busy caregivers to do the right thing, by making it the easy thing to do.  He has found that results across industries, work settings, shifts, professions, and countries highlight a great deal about reliability in high-risk environments — specifically, “you are better off changing the situation than trying to change human nature.”

This lecture will provide you the opportunity to learn:

  1. How increases in stress at the societal and patient care area levels impact care quality and self-care in general.
  2. How to measure care environment norms that enhance/hinder work-life balance.
  3. A simple resilience exercise that enhances resilience, increases happiness and decreases depression.

I’m aware that the world of medicine is increasingly complex. Our commitment to you is to see your lives improve.

Please join me in welcoming — and learning from — Dr. Sexton on Tuesday, Nov. 27, from 6:30 to 8 a.m. in the Wedel Auditorium (Building B basement). Breakfast will be provided. CME credits are available.

I look forward to seeing you there!

M. Catherine Sargent, M. W. (2011). Managing Stress in the Orthopaedic Family. Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery.
Quick JC, S. K. (2006). Stress management skills for strong leadership: is it worth dying for? The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, 88:217-25.