• Sara & Colin Taylor

Reimagining Physician Teams - Part 2

Updated: Dec 6, 2018

Last week, we touched on burnout and physician groups, and offered that we have conjured a metaphorical approach (and are most certainly not the first to think of it this way) to this combination. We tend to hear a lot about the system causes of physician burnout, where some feel that they are a greater contributor than the individual causes. So, how do we tackle the system? We have to first think smaller.

The larger system, if you will, is comprised of many microsystems such as the specialty you practice in, the department/clinic you work in, the physician group you work in, etc. Often these microsystems are standardized for things like efficiency and equality, but with this standardization comes a lack of control. Same hours, same overhead/pay, same holidays, same call, same clinical work, etc.

In the article 10 Bold Steps to Prevent Burnout in General Internal Medicine, they address some valid action steps toward improving burnout among physicians. In terms of the concept of standardization, they suggest “To preserve work control, standardization must still allow clinicians to “customize” their schedules to allow space for their other clinical and non-clinical activities.” 

We all need to have some sense of autonomy and control built into our practice, so we need to change the 'clone' mentality that many practices suffer from. The reality is that many of us dreamt of finishing residency and entering practice in a position to “call all the shots”. However, most of us were quickly faced with the exact opposite scenario.

Enter our sports teams metaphor. If we look at the microsystems in terms of ‘teams’, everyone has a role to play to make the team better, regardless of their ‘position’. For obvious reasons, a baseball team isn’t made up of all pitchers. What if we reimagined physician ‘teams’ to embrace our differences and play to our strengths? 

The article cited above proposes, “Flexible career policies including part-time work and shared medical practices (job sharing) between two physicians are critical for enhancing work/life balance.” Where, “Part-time options allow institutions to use a more flexible career life cycle approach to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse workforce and prevent burnout.”

Something to think about until next week.

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