Workshop Abstract

Combatting Physician Burnout

Burnout is a problem in healthcare. This workshop will explore one approach that the presenters have taking to combat burnout within the physician group. Learn more so you can bring these ideas back to your group!

Tara Riddell, Heather Waters; Karen Saperson, Sheila Harms, Ana Hategan


The Problem:

Physician burnout is recognized as endemic within the practice of medicine. It emerges within medical training, peaks during residency, and continues to affect nearly a third of Canadian physicians. Burnout is often associated with the erosion of work-life balance and compromised wellness, the sequelae of which can be devastating and far-reaching. Yet despite this, physicians continue to face heightened stress related to systemic challenges and pressures, and are immersed within a culture that can be isolating and unsympathetic to providers’ own needs and well-being. This leaves physicians struggling and disengaged, and unable to support those around them including colleagues and learners. The future of sustainable medicine therefore depends on taking meaningful action in which our institutions and training programs shift to empower physicians through fostering human connection, professional fulfillment, and enforcing systemic change.

Our Approach:

Within our own department, a multilevel approach has been undertaken to lead this change. Originating from needs assessments, quality improvement studies to understand the experience and narrative of burnout, and extensive literature review of evidence-based interventions, several new initiatives have been developed which address an often-neglected area in the formal education of medical trainees. This includes the development of a formalized wellness curriculum, the implementation of Balint groups, identification of wellness champions, increased accessibility to formal supports, and the development of RESPITE (Resilience in the Era of Sustainable Physicians: An International Training Endeavour) which encompasses an online curriculum, peer support rounds, and a wellness newsletter.

Instructional Methods:

This will be a highly interactive workshop aimed at encouraging and inspiring participants to consider how they can apply and adapt such resources and tools to their own practices, organizations, and educational settings. A brief overview of our discoveries will be shared, along with strategic guides in conducting quality improvement projects and developing curricula pertaining to wellness. Participants will develop capacity in recognizing and mitigating burnout within themselves and their medical trainees, by engaging in experiential exercises including assessment of one’s strengths and values, discovery of the joy in medicine, and brief mindfulness, self-compassion, relaxation and peer support that can be integrated into busy clinical schedules.