Physician Leadership: The Key to Burnout Reduction in Your Medical Organization

Physician Leadership - CPL

The term “burnout” in medicine may be defined as chronic, long-term, unresolvable job stress that leads to overwhelming exhaustion, and a lack of fulfillment. Job stressors such as administrative work, long hours, and, most importantly, loss of empowerment all work to reinforce feelings of futility. Ultimately, the stressors lead to feelings of being victims of change, or of having no input into the changes that really matter. Inevitably negative, callous, or cynical views toward the healthcare organization set in. A hard-earned career that is no longer perceived as personally meaningful and valued is stressful and detrimental to health and well-being.

Burnout is harmful to the organization, as well, when it invariably leads to difficulties with staff retention and recruitment, poor physician and patient satisfaction scores, suboptimal outcomes, and increased costs.  The good news is there is a successful strategy for reducing burnout: physician empowerment.

There are no better ways to feel empowered than to be effective and successful. To accomplish this, physicians need to acquire the tools that can make them effective leaders in a team-based collaborative approach. This is a very different approach to decision-making than the autonomous expert model that they learn in their training.  The autonomous expert model requires and rewards high IQ. To be a collaborative leader requires a high EQ: self and social awareness, self and relationship management, team building, active listening, switching from debate to dialogue, change management, and superb communication skills.  The organizations we have been working with are seeing a significant increase in physician and patient satisfaction scores.

Reducing burnout requires effective physician leadership training. Physicians who graduate from the CPL leadership training course leave feeling enthusiastic, optimistic, and empowered. They overwhelmingly recommend the training to others and seek out more opportunities to help their organizations achieve their missions.

Here is a small sampling of what graduates say about CPL leadership training and how it changed their lives:

Dr. Dan Berman

ED Practice Director, Covenant Health

“These sessions didn’t just turn on a lightbulb, they turned on the lights at Yankee Stadium. My emergency centers had just been acquired by Covenant and were going through a hell of a time managing the merger. The instruction was so spot on and pertinent to me. I actually look forward to dealing with workplace conflicts and conversations now with the new tools you have given me. Even my family has noticed a change in how I deal with them. I know your instruction was for the healthcare world, but there is definitely some cross-over into personal lives. I am grateful for the personal and professional growth I have experienced.”

Dr. Charles K. Everett

Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Director of Critical Care Services

“I had the opportunity to learn from Ashley and Fred in their Introduction to Physician Leadership program at Sutter University. I learned a tremendous amount about communication, various attributes of leadership, and my own strengths and weaknesses as a leader. Ashley and Fred work brilliantly together, know the material inside and out, and artfully draw upon the skills and experiences of those in the room to create and dynamic, thought-provoking, and productive learning environment. Highly recommended!”

Amy Heneghan, M.D.  

Chair, Professional Affairs Committee, Palo Alto Medical Foundation

“Our organization has worked closely with Fred in transforming our culture to support our mission of delivering excellence in healthcare delivery while maintaining a supportive, respectful and nurturing environment for physicians and their support staff. Fred was a terrific instructor. He was clear, well-prepared, in both experience and presentation, and moderated discussions very adeptly. He has also worked closely with PAFMG to provide executive coaching for our leaders, our physicians, and our staff.  He consistently brings his passion, his heart, and his integrity to his work with our group. The feedback we have received from the hundreds of our physicians who have worked with him has been consistently and enthusiastically positive. Fred is a tremendous asset. I wholeheartedly recommend.”

Dr. Rob A. Patrawala

Chairman, Sequoia Hospital Heart, and Vascular Institute; Director, Cardiac Electrophysiology Sequoia Hospital

“I recently had the opportunity to spend 4 full days learning from Ashley and Fred in a physician leadership course through Palo Alto Medical Foundation. They are truly gifted in teaching leadership to physicians. They have a wonderfully interactive and engaging style that helps the learning process. They stress and help convey an understanding of the difference between leading and managing and the importance of emotional intelligence in being a leader. They helped us move from debating each other to having dialogue and managing change in a group. This course ranks up there as one of the single most life-altering 4-day courses I have ever taken and have already seen the benefits in my administrative activities.”