Let Them Do Water Aerobics

Another day, another article about physician burnout. Today’s solution is water aerobics. Dr. Peter Zwerner, chief medical officer for the physicians group at the Medical University of South Carolina, explained that prancing around in the water fed into “MUSC’s goal of building resilience among doctors.” The doctor exercise program was so important that it was one of the reasons that MUSC ended all youth programs at the on-campus wellness center.

Please restore the youth swim classes! Doctors are already blamed for the opioid crisis. We don’t want to be blamed for depriving kids of fun in the pool also. Besides, there are better ways to fight burnout, Dr. Zwerner. Not making doctors see thirty patients a day would be a good start. A little more autonomy for physicians wouldn’t hurt either.

As a solo practitioner, I have a tough boss, but at least it’s my choice. When I’m feeling burned out, I make a gratitude list of all the advances that have improved my life.

  1. EMR’s- I might have to spend weekend time reviewing progress notes, but I can do it lying on the couch balancing the laptop on my belly. It beats the days when I carried home duffel bags of charts and risked tearing my rotator cuff yanking them out of my car. 
  2. Hospitalists- No more ER call, staying within hospital range like a dog with an invisible fence. No more rounding every day at a hospital where it took longer to find a parking spot than to see my one or two patients.
  3. Urgent Cares- Instead of calling me on weekends, patients go to the doc-in-a-box when they have a minor problem. And, many times, they see me on Monday anyway because they weren’t prescribed antibiotics for their virus.
  4. Smart phones- Those days of getting paged at Madison Square Garden and standing in line for a pay phone are a distant memory. Next came cell phones with spotty service and dead areas. With today’s technology, my service can text me in Ireland with those calls that can’t wait-like when the Medical Examiner needed to speak to me on Christmas. And, I can respond with accurate information from my EMR.

All in all, there’s never been a better time for solo practitioners. So, if you’re a doc at MUSC, after you get out of the pool, give me a call and I’ll talk to you about combatting burnout. 

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