Residents and fellows face a challenging environment that can easily lead to burnout, at rates of approximately 35 percent and 22 percent, respectively. Depression, suicide and other negative outcomes of burnout plague the medical field. It's essential for healthcare companies to commit resources to helping current and future medical professionals overcome this pressing issue. Here are 12 ideas for helping residents and fellows in 2018.
1. Well-Being Evaluation
Introduce a self-assessment test that allows residents and fellows to check their overall well-being with a consistent scale. They might assume that their stress levels and other side effects are simply expected in the medical field. The well-being evaluation shows them when it might be a problem.
The Mayo Clinic-invented Well-Being Index provides immediate feedback to survey-takers on how their well-being compares to their peers and whether or not their level of wellness is putting them at a high risk of potentially serious problems. This intuitive self-assessment screening tool has been accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME); so, residents and fellows can benefit from its immediate resources at the times it matters most.
[RELATED: Learn everything there is to know about Resident and Fellow Well-Being]
2. Wellness Programs
An organization-wide wellness program can help you get ahead of common burnout causes in your healthcare company. This initiative may include memberships to gyms to address physical health concerns and counselors for coping strategy development.
To be accredited by the ACGME, wellness programs are required to "educate faculty members and residents in identification of the symptoms of burnout, depression and substance abuse." This type of education should be available in your organization's wellness program to ensure assistance is available to those who experience the mentioned symptoms.
3. Deep Breathing Exercises
Deep and mindful breathing is an exercise that fellows and residents can do with a few minutes' break. They can step away to recenter themselves and let go of the stress and frustration that they encounter throughout the day.
4. On-Site Resources
Look for ways to offer on-site resources that improve quality of life for medical professionals. For example, you can provide personal assistants who tackle mundane errands or set up a gym so it's easily accessible.
ACGME accreditation requires a wellness program to have available resources 24/7 for residents and fellows; whether that be in-person, a web-based tool, or telemedicine.
5. Automate Common Tasks
Paperwork and other common work duties can eat up a lot of time. Explore technology solutions that offer automation for either streamlining or eliminating these processes.
6. Shift Flexibility
Try to work with residents and fellows on their shift availability. Some flexibility in the schedule can help these professionals have an easier time in their lives. It's not always possible to offer this perk, but it can definitely help.
7. Burnout Support Group
Knowing that they're not alone in their burnout can mean a lot to the individuals who are suffering. Either put together a support group for your organization or direct staff members to an established one.
8. Work-Life Balance
Work-life balance and having a medical career are not known to go together in a sentence. However, that's one reason why burnout rates are so high in this field. Encourage professionals to have a strong work-life balance whenever possible.
9. Paid Time Off
Another reason for stress can come from not having a good set of benefits. Paid time off can make the difference between someone getting a needed mental health day and driving themselves one step closer to leaving the medical profession entirely. They already have enough barriers in the way of taking a day off. Try not to make it more difficult by adding a financial element to the decision.
10. Burnout Education
Recognizing the signs of burnout early on can make a big difference for residents and fellows. They might not know what to look for and overlook everything as the stress of the job. When they learn that they're experiencing symptoms that far exceed what's expected, they can begin looking for resources.
The medical field deals with major understaffing issues, and burnout is one significant contributor to this problem. When you address resident and fellow burnout through several angles, you put your healthcare organization in a better position to build a strong pipeline of new talent and retain your current staff members. The Well-Being Index is an excellent tool to begin learning about the impact burnout has on your business.