Clinician Well-being

Published Date

Graham McMahon, MD, MMSc, President and CEO, ACCME, outlines strategies that CME professionals can use to prevent and manage clinician burnout.


>>McMAHON: Burnout is increasingly prevalent amongst clinicians in our healthcare environment, but there are several things that you as a CME professional can do to both prevent and manage the problem.

First of all, burnout is important for the individual that may be burned out. They can be disengaged, not connected with their own learning, they can be depressed and at risk for other psychiatric problems. They can become cynical and disruptive in their environment, and they can have poor balance between their work and their family life. For the institution, that means there can be challenges with poor productivity, a lack of safety, and indeed poor teaming because of the disruptive nature of some of these clinicians who are burned out.

What can CME professionals do? Well, there're things you can do to both prevent and manage clinicians who may be burned out. First, you can teach self-care. Help clinicians understand why self-care is so important and what they can do to protect themselves and their colleagues. Number two, learn to recognize signs and symptoms of burnout amongst their colleagues. Give them skills of what to recognize, what to look for, and what to do if they see burnout in their colleagues. Number three, create terrific educational programming, because intellectual fulfillment is the reason many of our colleagues came into this profession, and if we can restore intellectual fulfillment through learning, we can help prevent one of the factors that gets clinicians burned out. Number four, nurture effective teams. The more interprofessional and interdisciplinary our activities are, the more likely it is that we create a culture of mutual care. Teams are an important insulating barrier around individual burnout.

Number five, connect the individual learner with the institution in a more meaningful way. The more in which the institution and the learner feel like they're connected together and pulling in the same direction, the more likely it is that they'll feel that they are nurtured and nourished within the organization, and that connectedness can be important in preventing and managing burnout. And lastly, pay attention to what you can do with things like credit management to improve redundancy and improve harmonization for things like credit management, data management, quality improvement, and other efforts.

Burnout is an incredibly important problem for our profession and our ability to care for patients. CME professionals have an important role in addressing many of the factors that affect burnout, and these are some strategies you can use to make the difference I know you want to make.