Reducing Physician Burnout: Confidential Peer Coaching from an External Network Can Help

Posted on May 27, 2021 by Michelle Mudge-Riley, DO, MHA, RDN

Updated September 7, 2021

Physician burnout is something no healthcare system wants to have, but, with the effects of the COVID pandemic in 2020-2021, it has now reached a full blown crisis. When stress and frustration have led to burnout, the negative effects on care and patient satisfaction have been attested by multiple researchers,1 while other studies have confirmed burnout’s toll on healthcare organizations’ bottom line, via reduced productivity and increased turnover.2

Burnout has physical, behavioral and emotional symptoms. Among the most significant emotional symptoms are:Asset 6

  1. a sense of failure and self-doubt,
  2. feeling helpless, trapped and defeated,
  3. and detachment—feeling alone in the world.

Making a 180º Turn on Burnout Symptoms

If you could provide confidential ongoing support for your physicians to help them do a 180 you would be scoring major points against burnout. Imagine helping them know they are not alone, showing them the possibilities rather than the limits and putting a focus on their personal and professional development.

This is where peer coaching comes in.

A peer coach is a fellow physician and certified coach. His or her role is to establish a partnership with a physician looking for professional growth and/or showing signs of burnout (early or advanced) and then to support the physician with empathic listening, inquiry and guidance for improved well being, self-awareness and professional effectiveness.

Coaching is not psychotherapy, it’s more about defining values, setting concrete goals in the here-and-now and going after them, while increasing personal and professional fulfillment. In fact, our recent research shows physicians reported a 58% increase in self-reported well being after using peer coaching.

Coach and client (physician) explore all areas of well being. The coach also helps with personal and professional goal setting and acts as an accountability partner for reaching the goals. In the process, the physician finds ways to get “unstuck” from habitual negative points of view, gains energy and increases engagement.

It’s not a cure-all for burnout—but it is a personal and powerful strategy to reduce it.

Learn more by downloading our White Paper and Article, below: 

  Download our White Paper Peer Coaching Impacts on Physician Well Being     

  Download our Article The Value of Peer Coaching and its Promising Benefits


*Rebecca Pifer, “Physician Burnout Costs Industry $4.6B Annually,” Health Care Dive, May 28, 2019

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