I wrote about physician burnout and well-being in theversion of this column, and am still thinking a great deal about those issues. In the past 6 months, I can’t identify anything that strikes me as a real breakthrough in addressing these issues. However, the ever-increasing attention and resources directed at physician burnout and wellness, on both a local and national level, strike me as reason for cautious optimism.
A chief wellness officer
In summer 2017, Stanford University created a new physician executive role called chief wellness officer (CWO). As far as I am aware, this is the first such position connected with a hospital or medical school. It will be interesting to see if other organizations create similar positions, although I suspect that in places where it is explicitly recognized as a priority, responsibility for this work will be one of the many duties of a chief medical officer or other such executive, and not a position devoted solely to wellness. Interestingly, an Internet search revealed that some non–health care businesses have executive positions with that title, though the role seems focused more on physical health – as in exercise and smoking cessation – than emotional well-being and burnout.
on the Stanford Medicine website, the new CWO will work with colleagues to continue “building on its innovative , which was established in 2016. The center has engaged more than 200 physicians through programs focusing on peer support, stress reduction, and ways to cultivate compassion and resilience, as well as a literature and a dinner series in which physicians explore the challenges and rewards of being a doctor. The center also aims to relieve some of the burden on physicians by improving efficiency and simplifying workplace systems, such as electronic medical records.”
A national conference
Over the last 2 or 3 years many, if not most, physician conferences, including the, have added some content around physician burnout and well-being. But for the first time I’m aware of, an entire conference, the , addressed these topics in San Francisco in October 2017, and attracted 425 attendees along with an all-star faculty. I couldn’t attend myself, but found a informative and I recommend it.
While the summary didn’t suggest the conference provided a cure or simple path to improvement, I’m encouraged that the topic has attracted the attention of some pretty smart people. If there is a second edition of this conference, I’ll try hard to attend.
This article originally appeared on January 3, 2018 in: The Hospitalist