Helping Physicians Avoid Burnout: MSMS, St. Joseph Mercy Health System Partner Holds Physician Workshop

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Helping Physicians Avoid Burnout: MSMS, St. Joseph Mercy Health System Partner Holds Physician Workshop

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Michigan State Medical Society and St. Joseph Mercy Health System hosted a workshop earlier this week devoted to a topic of increasing concern for physicians across the country: burnout.

Christine A. Sinsky, MD, FACP, vice president for Professional Satisfaction at the American Medical Association (AMA) and point person for StepsForward, a new AMA initiative providing doctors with strategies to improve clinical workflows and efficiencies within their practice, was the guest speaker.

"Physicians dedicate their lives to keeping patients safe and healthy, but with so much of the job focused on things outside the exam room, it can be hard not to feel overwhelmed," said Rose Ramirez, MD, president of the Michigan State Medical Society. "Keeping up with never-ending regulatory changes and increasing documentation requirements has come at the cost of what's really important to physicians -- spending quality time with our patients."

Physician burnout is now a full-blown epidemic in the United States. A recent survey released by the Mayo Clinic in partnership with the American Medical Association (AMA) shows that 54 percent of physicians exhibit at least one symptom of burnout, a nearly 20 percent increase from 2011. Physician burnout rates are now more than twice as high as the rates observed in the general population and statistics suggest the gap is widening.

Burnout is generally characterized as a loss of enthusiasm for work, feelings of cynicism and a low sense of personal accomplishment, and the consequences in the medical field are far-reaching, affecting not only physicians but the patients they treat. Burnout is directly linked with several undesirable outcomes including, but not limited to, higher physician turnover, higher medical error rates, lower quality of care, lower patient satisfaction, and even physician suicide.

The long-term implications are problematic as well. In a medical system already facing a physician shortage and struggling to manage an influx of previously uninsured patients, the question of who will meet the looming needs of an aging population becomes difficult to answer.

"One out of every two doctors is suffering from burnout," said Ramirez "and this should be a clear signal to all that our medical system is in serious need of systemic reform."

The Michigan State Medical Society is a professional association of more than 15,000 Michigan physicians. Its mission is to promote a health care environment which supports physicians in caring for, and enhancing the health of Michigan citizens through science, quality, and ethics in the practice of medicine. Please visit for more information.