This episode is all about how to keep your doctors and prevent burnout. In this episode you will hear what healthcare organizations care do to keep their doctors. You will hear about what we do at DocWorking and learn about DocWorking THRIVE, our physician coaching, group coaching and much more.
“The shifts that they needed to make were not as hard as their overwhelmed and burned out brain was telling them it was going to be. They just needed support and a new way of thinking and some new ideas to walk them through the process when they were at that level of feeling so overwhelmed and burned out.”- Master Certified Life Coach Jill Farmer
In today’s episode, Hosts Dr. Jen Barna and Master Certified Coach Jill Farmer come together to discuss the overwhelm and burnout that is plaguing the healthcare industry and what healthcare organizations can do to keep their devoted doctors, nurses, PA’s and care team staff from leaving the practice of medicine.
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The past few weeks have been busy at DocWorking! We have been working behind the scenes to add more CME credits to the THRIVE memberships. Now you can get a credit for each small group coaching session as well as for each 1:1 coaching session, so 12 credits/year from monthly small group coaching sessions plus 8 credits for our foundational StressPal course+community coaching. That means there are now up to 32 credits in our THRIVE Platinum subscription!
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Podcast produced by: Amanda Taran
Please enjoy the full transcript below
Jill: The shifts that they needed to make were not as hard as their overwhelmed and burned-out brain was telling them that it was going to be. They just needed support and a new way of thinking, and some new ideas to walk them through the process when they were at that level of feeling so overwhelmed and burned out.
Jen: Welcome to DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast. I’m Dr. Jen Barna and I’m thrilled to be joined today by Master Certified Lead Coach Jill Farmer from DocWorking, here to discuss with me today, a topic that we’ve been talking about for months and it really just seems to be increasing in the news. Jill, first of all, thank you for joining me here today to talk about physician burnout.
Jill: Yeah, I’m really happy to talk to you about physician burnout and physician retention. You can’t help, but have it hit you in the pit of your stomach when you look at how many hardworking, wonderful physicians are considering leaving the practice of medicine because of burnout right now.
Jen: We had this problem before the pandemic began, but it has worsened with the pandemic. What we want to talk about is what can be done about it? What are healthcare organizations, employers of physicians, and other healthcare workers doing and what can they do to help support their healthcare workers through this and give them ongoing support, so that they can find a personalized solution to their own wellness and be able to stay in the workforce, if that’s what they choose to do? I want to hear about your experience as a coach, I want to hear about what you’re seeing out there among clients and the physicians, who are in DocWorking THRIVE. So, Jill, what are you finding?
Jill: As you said earlier, we had an issue before. The last five years, I’ve been talking a lot to everybody, from large healthcare systems to small think tanks and small healthcare groups, about the topic of burnout. So much that some people have said, “I’m burning out talking about burnout.” The reason that they’re burned out talking about burnout is that a lot of times, the discussion makes no suggestions for how to move through burnout, how to heal from burnout, and how to prevent it. This discussion is just the wailing and gnashing of teeth of noticing it’s there.
Burnout and physician pressure has been around for a while and the pandemic amplified it. It took what was already too loud, and hurt in our ears, and made it intolerable, deafening. I think that has forced healthcare institutions, which can be very less than nimble we’ll say to be kind, but really resistant to change in so many ways and they’ve have had to listen to the deafening roar, and pay attention to what the impact is going to be on patients down the line if burnout continues to cause so many of our physicians to say, “I’m done. I don’t want to be here anymore.”
I’m just one of those people, and I think the reason I was drawn to coaching is, I don’t want to just talk about the problem. I want us to really look at the science, and look at what works and put it into action, and let people embody the ideas that we think are going to help them change, and that’s what I’ve been doing for 10 years. I know that there are ways to help people be more resilient, even in the most challenging situations. There are ways that we can get peer support and coaching to help us move through those situations where we feel like, “I’m done. I can’t think of any other options here.”
I can’t count how many physicians in the course of me coaching individual physicians, who in the confidence of our relationship have said, “I just don’t know if I want to be in medicine anymore.” I can honestly say no one has ever left the practice of medicine, who’s worked with me in that scenario. Not because I’m superhuman by any means, but because the shifts that they needed to make were not as hard as their overwhelmed and burned-out brain was telling them it was going to be. They just needed support and a new way of thinking, and some new ideas to walk them through the process when they were at that level of feeling so overwhelmed and burned out.
Jen: What have you observed in situations where we’ve been able to bring together this unique combination of coaching, plus peer support, along with specific tools that we provide to people that can help them to deal with time and stress management, and overwhelm, and setting boundaries, in addition to gaining leadership skills and communication skills that can also help them inside the workplace as well as out of work? What have you seen as a difference with that kind of combination of services compared to just a weekend retreat, or just a quick course, or a lunch and learn type of thing.
Jill: [laughs] Somebody actually in our THRIVE group said, “I want to tell every healthcare leader that we don’t need more panels of us sitting on panels, saying, “What are you going to do? It’s just really hard.” I thought that was really powerful, something that we all need to think about. It’s not that anybody who ever has been on a panel isn’t trying to deliver meaningful information. But sometimes, when the people who are on the panel are struggling and haven’t gotten to the solution, that’s not the most useful thing. I think to your question, what makes for instance the way that we’ve very carefully developed DocWorking THRIVE helpful, is the peer support, which means physician after physician is telling us, I’m not alone. I thought I was the only one or I felt something was wrong with me because I was feeling X, Y, or Z. When there’s a safe, confidential environment where somebody can express what they’re feeling challenged by, and hear what other physicians are being challenged by, and how they get coached and supported, it really helps the physicians to know that they’re not alone, which we know is a really important component of resilience in moving through burnout.
Secondly, once you feel like “I’m not the only one here, there are others that have this problem,” rather than just sitting around with people complaining about the same problem that we have, it’s important to have that trusted thinking partner, the coach to say, “Yep, let’s acknowledge the problem. Let’s feel the feelings associated with this and then let’s start to play with strategies for how you can feel better, and be inspired to make shifts in behavior and potentially in environments or in institutional changes that need to be made, so that you can move forward.”
Also, one of the things we hear from our physicians is just the number of resources we provide in our community online forum that are very grounding and inspiring when the head is spinning about something else, to be able to sit down and say, “Oh, that quote really helps me out. That article really helped me think differently about that.” To get in their inbox with just a one-minute tip about how to try to do something better when it comes to time management, or focus, or get their brain redirected to where they want it to be. That coming together is just very supportive and it helps the physicians to feel seen. You and I are both passionate about this and so that really prompted the way that we put together DocWorking THRIVE. And now, let’s talk about DocWorking StressPal, who is that for and what is our intention with that?
Jen: The solutions up until now where there may be some people trained as coaches within an institution, that isn’t enough at this point. People are really needing more than that. They’re needing ongoing support and it can be the difference going forward between the institutions that survive without having trouble retaining people and the institutions who thrive. What we’re providing with DocWorking StressPal is an opportunity for each medical profession to have its own platform with our coaches’ support in an ongoing fashion similar to THRIVE, and the coaching support is on the platform along with the peer-to-peer support, which is nationwide, and we’re providing this with each different, individual cohort.
The whole care team can benefit from this course, which has been very carefully designed over years by the StressPal team. And the course is about strengthening resilience for the whole team. As you and I were talking about a little while ago, Jill, this course is designed to make life changing, brain-based cognitive change, so that when you complete this course, you can benefit from it long term. It’s not just something where you watch a couple of videos, and you walk away, and you remember something for a couple of days. It’s really designed with an interactive type of platform, plus the coaching support that goes really from year to year.
We’re not talking about a short course that you just finish and walk away, the support is ongoing. It’s a really exciting novel approach and I don’t know of any other team that has this three-pronged approach that we’re bringing with the expert coaching with coaches who have been working with healthcare workers for years. Coaches who know how to help, know the space, and many of whom are physicians themselves, and then combining that with the brain-based course that we can walk through together and have the peer-to-peer support to discuss what we’re seeing in that course.
And then as a healthcare worker, when your entire team has gone through this course, you have the added benefit that everyone has the same vocabulary, and now you’re coming together at a higher level as a team. From the healthcare organization standpoint, the ultimate result is institutional resiliency, which, of course, makes for fewer mistakes, a better functioning healthcare team, and ultimately, better patient care, all of which supports healthcare worker and physician retention. On so many levels, it benefits the organization and the bottom line of the organization.
Jill: Yeah. In my experience, this course really does change your brain for the better and I’ve been ensconced in this work of talking about exactly this for the last 10 years. I’m very excited that you can earn CME credits as you take it as well, which I think is extremely important. I do believe it’s part of our mission to make sure that as a physician you get reconnected to why you chose this incredible career in the first place and getting back to how you can do your best at what’s most important to you, which we know is, as you just said, serving patients and doing the best that you can do for them.
It’s important to us and that’s why we wanted to take the time to talk to you guys about it today, because sometimes, we forget to tell you why it is we do the work we do, what our intention is, and how we want to keep you, as physicians, doing the work that you have chosen to do in a way that’s sustainable and that helps you deliver the results that you want.
Jen: Very well said. One thing that I think is another really important point that we’ve talked about a number of times is that physicians and other healthcare workers are resilient and we appreciate that. We would not be doing what we do, we just simply wouldn’t be in this profession at all, especially at this point, if we weren’t resilient. We want to acknowledge that, and that also is a really key part of what we support and do with this course, in on an ongoing wellness training is that, we acknowledge that we’re already resilient, but what we’re trying to do is provide tools to strengthen the resiliency that we have, and to build upon that, and to build more resilience as individuals as well as more resilient teams.
Jill: Very well said. It really can’t be said enough that compared to the general population, we know that healthcare workers have much higher levels of resilience. Basically, no one else, none of the rest of us who aren’t healthcare professionals would have survived nearly as well, let alone thrived in the ways so many of you have considering the conditions in the last couple of years. It really has been amazing, and isn’t it wonderful there are brain-based solutions to help us improve our cognitive skills even more to learn how to even better handle the most challenging conditions like worldwide pandemics and to help us to move through those with resilience, and strength, and to help us sustain our passion for the work that we do?
Jen: Thank you, Jill. I really appreciate the chance to have this discussion with you and we’ll definitely be continuing to have this conversation and continuing to have the conversation with physician colleagues across the country, and other healthcare workers across the country who have asked us to create this for them. So, we’re so thrilled to be able to bring this to all the different healthcare professionals out there and to provide this level of support.
Jill: If you are interested in learning anything else about DocWorking, which we’ve been talking about for a little while here, it provides coaching from expert coaches, it provides peer support from all levels of healthcare teams, it is brain-based resilience training, and it allows you to lead a more resilient team, and you can earn CME credits while you’re at it. So, if you are interested in any more information about DocWorking, reach out via email today to [email protected] and we can start the conversation now about how we can help at your individual organization. On behalf of Jen Barna, MD, CEO of DocWorking and myself, Jill Farmer, thank you so much for being with us and we’ll see you next time on DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast.
Amanda: I’m Amanda Taran, producer of DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast. Thank you so much for listening. Please don’t forget to like and subscribe, and head over to docworking.com to see all we have to offer.