Burnout & Resilience

Why Confronting Physician Burnout Head-On Matters

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Carolyn Ward, MD, joins our podcast this week for a candid chat about the impact of burnout on healthcare workers and potential remedies.

We’re excited to have Dr. Ward in this conversation as she shares her personal experiences combating burnout and provides suggestions on how the healthcare industry as a whole can better address this widespread concern. Highlights from today’s podcast include:

  • Examining the root causes of healthcare worker burnout.
  • Dr. Ward’s insights into her own struggles with managing burnout.
  • The most effective approaches to tackling physician burnout in the future.
  • Why “quitting medical practice” is not a sustainable solution for physicians contending with burnout.

Dr. Ward currently holds the position of Director of Clinical Strategy at Particle Health. She previously practiced internal medicine following her completion of medical school training and residency at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey.

As we discover in today’s episode, numerous resources out there are encouraging physicians to explore alternative income sources, often promoting the idea of addressing burnout by transitioning away from traditional patient care.

However, it’s crucial to acknowledge that overtly urging physicians to distance themselves from the medical field will not constitute a comprehensive resolution. The essential nature of a robust medical workforce cannot be ignored. After all, we all depend on doctors and healthcare workers!

This underscores the significance of directly confronting the issue of burnout. Such proactive engagement holds immense importance for our healthcare profession and society as a whole.

Dr. Ward emphasizes how her passion for medicine stemmed from the desire to help people. However, she highlights the challenges that often lead to burnout, particularly during training and early career stages.

Long hours, emotionally taxing patient situations, and depersonalization from constant computer work contribute to a loss of connection with patients. Connecting with patients was the driving force for her entering this line of work in the first place.

Dr. Ward’s experience of feeling detached from the human aspect of patient care underscores the broader problem of burnout among physicians. She recounts instances where overwhelming emotions and systemic pressures led to emotional strain.

She describes the distressing moment when, after participating in a traumatic situation involving a patient, she was immediately confronted with administrative tasks, leading her to emotionally disconnect.

To address these challenges, Dr. Ward envisions a future where healthcare data can empower physicians to make informed decisions, enhancing patient care and engagement.

Dr. Ward encourages those experiencing burnout to reach out for support, stressing that feelings of isolation are common, and that collaboration is key in finding solutions.

She said feelings of isolation and being overwhelmed are incredibly common in our profession. By reaching out for support, whether to colleagues, mentors, or administrators, healthcare workers can initiate a crucial step toward mitigating burnout.

Dr. Ward’s advocacy for connection resonates with the understanding that fostering a network of shared experiences and community can foster a sense of solidarity and reduce the burden of burnout.

Collaborative efforts to acknowledge, address, and strategize solutions collectively highlight the pivotal role that open communication and mutual understanding play in tackling the pervasive issue of burnout within healthcare.

Her insights underscore the need to collectively address burnout within the healthcare industry by fostering connections and exploring both individual and organizational strategies for change.

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Meet Carolyn Ward, MD

Dr. Ward is Director of Clinical Strategy with Particle Health. She previously practiced internal medical after completing her medical school training and residency at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey. She currently resides in Southern California.

Connect with Carolyn Ward, MD