Healthcare News & Insights

Short training sessions make a big difference in stopping doctor burnout

With just a few extra hours, hospitals can make significant progress in keeping their doctors from experiencing stress and burnout.

134549559 (1)Doctors who are too stressed to feel empathy and concern for their patients are less invested in caring for them. And burned-out doctors have been linked to negative outcomes for patients, including an increased risk of infection and other complications. So it’s essential for hospitals to nip this problem in the bud.

Support & training reduce burnout

A new study published in this month’s edition of JAMA Internal Medicine looked at the impact of creating a more supportive environment for doctors. The results indicated that it doesn’t take a huge time commitment to make a big difference for doctors’ well-being.

Doctors who participated in the study were asked to attend several facilitated small-group learning sessions over the course of nine months. Sessions took place on a bi-weekly basis and only lasted for an hour.

During the group sessions, doctors learned mindfulness techniques to reduce their stress. They were also able to openly discuss their professional experiences with each other.

The doctors were asked about their feelings toward their work both before and after attending the sessions. Three months after the program ended, participants reported feeling more empowered and engaged in their work. Also, more doctors felt their work was meaningful.

So not surprisingly, their rates of burnout and emotional exhaustion declined dramatically. Rates continued to stay low for the year following their participation.

In comparison, burnout rates for a control group of doctors that didn’t attend these sessions actually increased as time went on. And many of them didn’t believe their work had meaning.

Other, smaller studies confirm the effects of similar training for doctors. Example: Last fall, research in the Annals of Family Medicine looked at the effect taking a short mindfulness training course had on 30 primary care physicians.

The 18-hour course, which was completed over several days, taught doctors the basics of mindfulness practices (including listening and showing compassion for others) and their application toward their daily professional lives.

Nine months after the course ended, the doctors reported lower incidences of stress, depression and anxiety than others who didn’t participate in the course.

A valuable investment

It just goes to show: Any interventions a hospital tries to curb physician burnout — even if they’re small — can have long-lasting effects on doctors months down the line.

Giving providers easy access to resources such as stress-management training and peer support groups wouldn’t be too difficult for most hospitals. And the effort would be well worth it in the end. If your doctors are more attentive and engaged in their work, your hospital will provide higher quality care to patients.

Subscribe Today

Get the latest and greatest healthcare news and insights delivered to your inbox.