This week Colin came across a Radiology CME article titled, The Road to Wellness: Engagement Strategies to Help Radiologists Achieve Joy at Work and was impressed firstly, that it was rightly prioritized as a CME worthy article, and secondly, by the comprehensiveness of the article. Unfortunately, this is limited access due to paywall so the link only leads to the abstract, but we wanted to discuss 4 points brought to light (the article had many more great points).
1. "Burnout is not solely a consequence of overworking." Bingo! Yes, overworking can be a significant contributor to burnout, but as we know, it is highly multifactorial. They do point to feeling underappreciated and this is often overlooked and yet, is seemingly easy to rectify. If leadership spent as much time praising as reprimanding, it would be a huge step in the right direction. It's hard to believe that some very intelligent people don't think back to Pavlov's dogs and realize how positive reinforcement really works. Still taking radiology as an example, being told your reports are not crafted to the organization's liking or that your turn-around time (the time from when an image is on your worklist to when you have finalized the report) is too long, and not counterbalancing that with "you are very respectful to the staff" and "have a strong work ethic never being late and always getting your work done", seems like a missed opportunity.
Yes, overwork is just one of many causes.
2. "Achieving a state of wellness in the imaging work environment is a continuous multistep journey that is the responsibility of team members of all levels, including administrators, physicians, technologists, nurses, and practice-support personnel." Radiology is a very team-based specialty in medicine, even though it may seem as though a radiologist just sits in a dark room by themselves. Many people are in fact involved as indicated by the article statement, and everyone can play a part in the well-being of the work environment.
3. "Specific drivers of stress include lack of autonomy, inefficiency, time pressures, clerical burdens, loss of control, and loss of meaning in one's work." Well that wraps it up in a nutshell. These are common in radiology but far from unique to this specialty. The system is creating these stressors without question and their impact lands differently on each physician depending on the other stressors in a physician's life and work environment.
4. "The culture of an organization can affect the satisfaction of workers,..." Broad statement, universal message.
This concluding quote is from Dr. Richard Gunderman, a radiologist and a prolific thought leader: "Burnout at its deepest level is not the result of some train wreck of examinations, long call shifts, or poor clinical evaluations. It is the sum total of hundreds and thousands of tiny betrayals of purpose, each one so minute that it hardly attracts notice. When a great ship steams across the ocean, even tiny ripples can accumulate over time, precipitating a dramatic shift in course."