From Your President: Is Physician Engagement the Key to Wellness?

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Written By:

Michael Hamant, MD, ArMA President

Welcome to the new digital magazine of the Arizona Medical Association (ArMA), The Arizona Pulse. I am proud of the work ArMA leadership and staff have done to establish this unique platform for the perspectives and critical issues facing Arizona physicians. This is a magazine that is written by and for Arizona physicians – join the conversation! Our intent is that the magazine will offer a highly interactive format and allow us to engage with each other on the topics covered in each edition. If you are not an ArMA member yet, I encourage you to join us today!

In January, the Medscape 2018 Physician Lifestyle Report was released, highlighting aspects of physician burnout and depression. The report had over 15,000 U.S. physicians from 29 specialties weigh in on their happiness at and outside of work, personality traits, and lifestyle.

An astonishing 42% of physician respondents reported feeling burned out.

We continue to see high rates of burnout with intensivists, neurologists, family medicine, and OB-GYN. OB -GYN and family medicine were also among the highest rates reporting both burnout and depression. Factors contributing to depression? “Job” was the highest cited contributor to those experiencing depression. Employment models seemed to make no difference – 42% of both employed and self-employed reported feeling burned out.

The culprits
Not surprisingly, the highest marked contributor to burnout was charting and paperwork (selected by 56% of respondents). Other top contributors included spending too many hours at work, and lack of respect from administrators/employers, colleagues or staff.

The solutions
When asked what would reduce burnout, the top three suggestions were: increased compensation; a more manageable schedule; and decreased government regulations. While workplace programs are available to many physicians employed in larger institutions, office-based solo practices’ workplace programs had the highest rate of actual use.

What we are actually doing to cope offers its own insights. We are exercising, talking with close family/friends, sleeping – and sometimes isolating ourselves.

What about our colleagues who are not experiencing burnout? What are they doing? Well, they’re exercising, for one, and they cite the following important factors:

  • having autonomy or flexibility,
  • maintaining a sense of accomplishment or joy,
  • managing expectations and having a positive outlook,
  • liking their patients,
  • having support systems with relationships,
  • working in a good environment,
  • working part-time,
  • feeling they have work-life balance.

Before we all declare ourselves part-time physicians, I want to offer an alternative. Let’s bring joy back to medicine – let’s engage with each other and access a network of colleagues who understand the unique demands – and rewards – of practicing medicine.

We had the opportunity for this at ArMA’s 4th Annual Physician Leadership Conference on March 24, 2018, where we explored more about the solutions to physician burnout and enhancing physician well-being. My colleague and ArMA’s immediate past president, Dr. Gretchen Alexander, dedicated the last year to planning an event that provided tools and conversation to help our physician community see value and potential for well-being through leadership. We are grateful to our speakers and panelists that participated in this important event. Thank you, Dr. Paul DeChant (see his related article in this edition of The Arizona Pulse), Dr. Lois Krahn, Dr. Suja Mathew, Dr. Marjorie Bessel, and Dr. Kote Chundu.

I have been a member of ArMA for nearly two decades. As a small practice physician, I firmly believe that organized medicine continues to be a natural fit for developing the community and capacity to counter physician isolation and help physicians feel more empowered.

On this premise, ArMA has also established online community forums for various stages in professional careers and practice types. I encourage our members to sign in today and locate the practice forum community of interest to you. Not an ArMA member? Please join today and be part of our community!

Dr. Michael Hamant is a private practice family physician in Tucson and the 126th President of the Arizona Medical Association (ArMA).

2 Comments
  1. Suresh Anand, MD 8 months ago
    Reply

    Dr, Michael Hamant:

    Congratulations for the first edition of the Arizona Pulse.
    It is full of information and easy to read with excellent
    articles. Keep it up. We are very proud of you all.

  2. Hi

    Congratulations!!

    keep bringing more!! Have a good one ahead

    Cheers

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