COVID-19 And Physician Burnout: Addressing The Issue Head-On
July 30, 2021
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, physician burnout was a growing concern. However, according to a Medscape survey, 64 percent of US physicians said burnout had intensified during the pandemic and resulted in the uptake of various unhealthy behaviors including increased food and alcohol consumption. 
Physician burnout was first described by Herbert J. Freudenberger in 1974. Often caused by work-related stressors such as inefficient work processes and individual factors related to age and educational debt among others, it is characterized by emotional and physical exhaustion, detachment and lacking a sense of pride and accomplishment in the workplace. 

The first step in addressing physician burnout and resilience is to take a self-assessment and evaluate how you are doing. 
How Are You Doing? Find Out With These Self-Assessment Tools!
  • Maslach Burnout Inventory – Human Services Survey for Medical Personnel (MBI-HSS MP): This 22-item survey measures burnout in individuals who work with people in the following three areas: Emotional Exhaustion (EE), Depersonalization (DP), and low sense of Personal Accomplishment (PA). 

  • Mini-Z Burnout Assessment: This 10-item survey derived from work done by Mark Linzer, MD, for the Physician Worklife Study, assesses workplace stress levels as compared to others in your field.

  • Provider Resilience App: This free app developed by psychologists at the National Center for Telehealth & Technology allows users to assess their overall resilience through a series of self-assessments. It also has several tools to help you conquer stress and build compassion satisfaction. Find it on the App Store and Google Play.

  • Physician Health First Well-Being Planner: This planner, exclusively available to members of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), is designed to help users navigate their path to well-being with a plethora of resources to address major areas of concern. 

  • Compassion Satisfaction and Fatigue (CSF) Test: This 66-item self-assessment helps measure burnout risk and compassion fatigue status.

Physician resilience is an important issue in primary care and should be addressed regularly to increase quality of care patients receive and reduce burnout, noted Kim Yu, MD, FAAFP, Aledade Regional Medical Director.
“When I think of resilience, I think of this quote by Viktor Frankl: ‘Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom,’” said Dr. Yu. “This past year and a half, physicians' response to the pandemic has been nothing short of heroic. They have been resilient in managing their practices and steadfast in providing care despite all the difficulties. My hope is that all health care heroes take time to heal and practice more self compassion.”