When considering how locum tenens can be used to prevent physician burnout, the typical notion is of doctors taking on temporary assignments to avoid burning out themselves. But there’s another approach: healthcare administrators can use locum tenens providers to alleviate stress among their permanent physicians, preventing physician burnout within their own medical staff.
When is the last time you considered the level of physician burnout at your organization? Do you find burnout to be a pervasive issue that could impact the quality and safety of your medical services? Could you implement locum tenens relief to alleviate tension among your providers? Here’s the latest on physician burnout and how partnering with a trusted locum tenens agency can help.
Update on Physician Burnout
Of more than 15,000 physicians who responded to a 2019 Medscape report on physician burnout, depression, and suicide:
44% felt burned out
11% were colloquially depressed
4% were clinically depressed
Causes of Physician Burnout
Doctors in the survey reported the top causes of physician burnout as too many bureaucratic tasks including charting and paperwork, excessive hours, computerization of health records, lack of respect from administrators, employers, colleagues, or staff, and insufficient compensation.
Physician Burnout by Specialty
Specialities that showed a higher propensity for burnout were urology, neurology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, internal medicine, emergency medicine, and family medicine. And specialists in general surgery, urology, cardiology, pulmonary medicine, and nephrology reported working the longest hours.
Signs of Physician Burnout
Administrators and employers can watch for clear signs of burnout among physicians such as exhaustion, depersonalization, and lack of efficacy. Physician burnout can result in decreases in patient satisfaction and quality of care, increased physician turnover, higher error rates and malpractice risk, alcohol and drug abuse, and even physician suicide (American Academy of Family Physicians).
What Doctors Can Do to Prevent Burnout
Some doctors report turning to unhealthy means for coping with physician burnout such as binge eating, consuming junk food, drinking alcohol, smoking, or isolating. However, healthier options for dealing with stress are exercise, therapy, meditation, talking with family and friends, and job modification. One way physicians can modify their work schedule, demands, and atmosphere is to move from being a permanent provider to working as a locum tenens provider. Many physicians who choose the locum tenens lifestyle find this invigorates their careers.
What Administrators Can Do to Prevent Physician Burnout
Although perspectives on physician burnout and how to prevent it can be controversial, one fact is clear: healthcare administrators can take measures to ease stress for physicians. If you’re in search of ideas for how to deal with physician burnout as an administrator, consider using locum tenens providers to ease the burden on your permanent providers.
Bringing on locum tenens relief can:
Give your permanent physicians time to relax and reconnect with their families
Spread out the workload thereby improving physician engagement
Allow you to bring on relief without having to create permanent positions
Improve your revenue stream by increasing quality of care
Ensure patient safety by supporting physicians’ effectiveness and wellbeing
Improve morale by restoring a sense of mutual respect between medical staff and administration