We get it. We have stood in front of a group of residents and physicians, charged with the task of delivering a talk on wellness. Stress management, time management, resilience…you get the picture. Now we believe these are important personal development topics for anyone, but if you stand in front of a group of disengaged, exhausted, beaten down medical professionals, get ready for the head nods and glazed-over looks from the crowd.
We have seen that these imposed wellness sessions have gone a step further and people on Twitter have reported ‘mandatory wellness sessions’ by the powers that be. To boot, these sessions have to often be squeezed into an already jam-packed life of a physician and trainee. They could use a massage and a free cleaning service, not an online session on managing their fatigue. More sleep...get it. Mounting stress and workload…impossible.
Our way of thinking about this whole problem has evolved - it had to. On the one hand, we need to normalize the importance of taking care of ourselves, while setting boundaries and priorities in life. On the other hand, physicians, especially in the face of burnout, don't have time to fit one more thing into their schedule and are looking for straight up solutions.
A recent Kevin MD article titled, Why Your Physician Wellness Programs Aren’t Working, addressed part of this issue and came to a reasonable conclusion: "So maybe there isn’t 'too much wellness,' so much as good intentions falling short of expectations.”
If the intention is to find solutions to the epidemic of physician burnout, imposing one-size fits all mandatory wellness sessions is not the answer. If we can change our way of thinking around this issue, then organizations and groups can too.
We are all in this together, so let’s figure it out one doc at a time.
“Do something. If it doesn't work, do something else. No idea is too crazy.” ~ Jim Hightower