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Teachable Action for Leaders Committed to Improving Physician Work Life: Continuing Education

      To the Editor:
      We read with great interest the article by Shanafelt et al
      • Shanafelt T.D.
      • Gorringe G.
      • Menaker R.
      • et al.
      Impact of organizational leadership on physician burnout and satisfaction.
      on the impact of organizational leadership on physician burnout and satisfaction published in the April 2015 issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings. In their article, the authors identified several specific leadership qualities of physician supervisors as predictors of physician burnout and career satisfaction, including encouraging physicians to develop their talents and skills. We recently conducted a survey of the approximately 1850 clinically active academic physicians at Massachusetts General Hospital focused on physician burnout, career satisfaction, and administrative burden (response rate, 96% [1774]). Our results similarly support the finding that physician leaders can improve the well-being of physicians. In our study, physicians who were satisfied with the control they have over their practice environment, their call and coverage schedule, and their overall workload were less likely to report symptoms of burnout. Each of these factors, with the exception of call and coverage schedule, was also predictive of career satisfaction.
      In addition, a majority of our physicians (1227 of 1758 [70%]; 16 non-respondents) reported high levels of satisfaction with continuing medical education (CME) opportunities offered in their departments. Fewer (995 of 1760 [57%]; 14 non-respondents) were satisfied with time and resources provided for CME, but those who were satisfied with both of these aspects of CME reported higher degrees of overall career satisfaction (odds ratio, 1.30). Previous studies have established the relationship between opportunities for professional development and career satisfaction among physicians.
      • Bovier P.A.
      • Perneger T.V.
      Predictors of work satisfaction among physicians.
      • Bunton S.A.
      • Corrice A.M.
      • Pollart S.M.
      • et al.
      Predictors of workplace satisfaction for U.S. medical school faculty in an era of change and challenge.
      For physicians, continuing education programs can be intellectually engaging, provide opportunities to connect with colleagues, and support their pursuit of excellent care for patients. However, without sufficient resources, CME requirements can be a burden. Together, our findings and those of Shanafelt et al introduce 3 specific actions related to continuing education that physician leaders can take today to improve physician well-being: (1) encourage (or even require) physicians to pursue educational opportunities and new skills,
      • Shanafelt T.D.
      • Gorringe G.
      • Menaker R.
      • et al.
      Impact of organizational leadership on physician burnout and satisfaction.
      (2) create time in physician schedules for such activities, and (3) provide resources (tuition and travel reimbursement or locally developed programs).
      Recent attention to physician burnout is likely a reflection of rapidly changing times—payment reform, electronic medical records, and board certification requirements, for example. While leaders focus on guiding physicians through these tumultuous and distracting times, the surveys that we and Shanafelt et al conducted suggest that by paying closer attention to one of the oldest traditions of the medical profession—continuing education—leaders can help physicians weather the storm.

      References

        • Shanafelt T.D.
        • Gorringe G.
        • Menaker R.
        • et al.
        Impact of organizational leadership on physician burnout and satisfaction.
        Mayo Clin Proc. 2015; 90: 432-440
        • Bovier P.A.
        • Perneger T.V.
        Predictors of work satisfaction among physicians.
        Eur J Public Health. 2003; 13: 299-305
        • Bunton S.A.
        • Corrice A.M.
        • Pollart S.M.
        • et al.
        Predictors of workplace satisfaction for U.S. medical school faculty in an era of change and challenge.
        Acad Med. 2012; 87: 574-581

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