Burnout Answers from a Medical Director

What happens when a doctor becomes an administrator?  Well, a lot. The doctor sees behind the curtain.  To survive, he or she must realize how to play the game and either morph into an administrator or fail at the new job.  This is my opinion but I have seen this over and over in my career.  It’s actually understandable.  Picture yourself in the trenches getting creamed as a primary care doc, ER doc, etc.  Then you get offered a job with almost twice the salary NOT to see patients.  Are you going to say no?  Then you realize that all you have to do is to speak the language of Administralian.  It’s not hard to learn because you have heard the bogus terms for years but now you have to embrace them.  Could you do it?  For a lot more money and little or no patient care?

Let me give you another example and the reason I brought this up.  I saw this article in Becker’s Review called Three key steps for reducing physician burnout and I thought, wow, this is really stupid and yet a doctor wrote it.  Here were the keys:

  1. For starters, thinking of the physician not as an individual provider but as part of a dedicated care coordination team.
  2. Contrary to popular belief, technology also can help reduce physician burnout.
  3. Another solution to physician burnout requires a paradigm shift. Historically, physicians have been looked upon as the sole source for keeping patients healthy or getting them on the road to recovery. As healthcare continues to evolve, it will be critical for physicians to empower their patients to take control of their health.

See how easy it is to fix burnout?  All you have to do is embrace everything that has caused burnout.  Here is what made me smirk the most:

Dr. Ann Marie Sun, served as an emergency physician for 14 years. Her own experience with physician burnout precipitated a career transition in 2013. Dr. Sun now serves as medical director of population health at Arizona Care Network, one of the nation’s leading physician-led and governed accountable care organizations, more than 5,500 providers and 300,000 patients.

So, she burns out and then becomes an administrator of an ACO and then wants to tell us how to fix our burnout.  What is wrong this picture?

Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, which you can find here.

Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  4 comments for “Burnout Answers from a Medical Director

  1. Steve O'
    October 29, 2018 at 11:52 am

    In bureaucratese, this phrase does not mean what it looks like: “As healthcare continues to evolve, it will be critical for physicians to empower their patients to take control of their health.”
    It means the dissolving away of the idea of professionals advising and providing actions and being legally responsible for our opinions, to placing the liability on the patient.
    If you go to a major brand-name hardware store and talk to a retail assistant about chainsaws, then buy one and cut yourself badly with the chainsaw, who’s to blame? YOU. American medicine will be reformulated to place the liability on the “customer.” A customer is not a patient. You have no duty to advise them correctly. Just point them to Aisle 28.

  2. Martha Oreilly
    October 29, 2018 at 11:25 am

    Bullshit buckshot bbladdy blah. When a real doctor becomes an administrator they put on a hat like the sorting hat in Harry potter. But this one has a blade. And it gives them a lobotomy.

    • Steve O'
      October 29, 2018 at 11:46 am

      Brilliant comment, Martha O’!

  3. PW
    October 29, 2018 at 7:24 am

    “patients to take control of their health.”
    Well, this should be a given in any health care system.

    As for the rest of it, whether you’re part of a team or not, the system still breeds burnout. And technology is a huge precipitator of burnout.

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