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

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 towards the health care organization set in. A hard-earned career that is no longer perceived a personally meaningful and valued is stressful and detrimental to health and wellbeing.

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 cost.  The good news is there is a successful strategy in 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 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 was 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 work-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!”

Dr. Omondi Nyong’o  

Ophthalmologist, Pediatric Ophthalmologist, Palo Alto Medical Foundation

“Ashley and Fred form an exceptional teaching team. In their ‘Introduction to Physician Leadership’ course, Ashley and Fred successfully shifted our thinking into directions that are extremely helpful for leading positive change in healthcare. We learned how to shift from intellectual reasoning to emotional understanding, from individualistic competition to team-based problem solving, from debating others to forming agreements and how to develop inner awareness and self-control in order to successfully influence others. The content was rich, exciting and interactive. Ashley and Fred are gifted teachers, high -level experts in their subject matter and are very skilled at focusing broad topics into manageable and action-oriented learning. This class series is perhaps the most productive and meaningful course I have taken in all my education.”

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.”

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