By now, those intune with the healthcare industry know physicians have been working under extraordinarily stressful conditions—stressors that the pandemic made worse, but which existed long before COVID began. Burnout is a constant concern.
What’s far less well known, but coming into sharper focus today, is that healthcare executives struggle with burn out too. In fact, a substantial 2022 study by the healthcare-focused executive search firm WittKiefer reported that 74 percent of their C-suite-level respondents were feeling some degree of burnout and nearly half of the responders who considered themselves burned out said they sometimes thought of leaving their jobs.
“Working seven days a week impacts my personal life, and there is no end in sight to the staffing/diversion nightmare,” one respondent commented. “I’m seriously planning to retire early.”
In an essay based on his own personal experience as well as the latest research, Steven Swanson, MD, a physician with decades of experience as a physician, healthcare executive and peer coach, examines the sources of executive stress and burnout, including the pressures of doing more with less, differences in training between executives and physicians, C-suite/clinical misunderstandings and tensions and a pervasive sense, shared with clinicians, that they have too little control over conditions and outcomes.
Dr. Swanson also makes emphatic suggestions for making executives’ lives better and heading off burnout, focused on admitting the problems, discussing them openly and forging supportive connections with colleagues and well-being programs. Like many discussing clinicians’ burnout today, he calls for a culture change in medicine toward policies and attitudes that head off burnout by making the medical workplace more humane.
Learn more about this once-hidden burnout crisis and how to solve it by reading Dr. Swanson’s essay here.