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Jill Farmer talks with Dr. Diana Glasser, MD about how she found work-life balance as an OB-Gyn Hospitalist

“If you want to be a hospitalist, it does allow you to have a day off when you’re post-call because we don’t have patients of our own.”

-Dr. Diana Glasser, MD 

OB-Gyn Hospitalist Dr. Diana Glasser joins our conversation today on DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast, to discuss how an OB-Gyn Hospitalist system can transform work life-balance for OB-Gyns, while delivering superior care in overnight deliveries. Master Certified Coach Jill Farmer talks with Dr. Glasser about her experience in the growing field of OB-Gyn Hospitalists, and how joining this subspecialty has allowed her to pursue the life she always wanted outside of work as a mom and as a whole person. Dr. Diana Glasser is a board-certified OB-GYN, and she has provided onsite leadership as a site director in California.

 

This conversation is about how burnout is affecting OBGYNs and discussing different options to help avoid burnout. Prevention is what it’s all about! Please click here to take our Burnout Quiz and see where you are on the Balance to Burnout Continuum.

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Please enjoy the full transcript below

 

Dr. Diana: If you want to be a hospitalist, it does allow you to have a truly a day off when your post call, because we don’t have patients of our own.

[DocWorking theme]

Jill: Hi, there. So glad you took the time to join us today on DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast. I’m Jill Farmer, one of the podcast’s co-hosts as well as lead coach at DocWorking. And as always, this podcast is brought to you by DocWorking THRIVE, where you can get coaching and tools to help you live better. Go to docworking.com today to take our Burnout quiz and learn how we can help you live your best life.

Today, I am really excited to be joined by Dr. Diana Glasser. She is the market medical director as well as an OB hospitalist. She is a board-certified OB-GYN. And she has provided on-site leadership as a site director in California. Diane, thanks so much for being with us today to have this conversation about how burnout is affecting OB-GYNs.

Dr. Diana: It’s great to be here with you guys today. Thanks for having me and I’m happy to talk about how we help community doctors get some rest, try to avoid burnout as much as possible in today’s climate, where probably all employees are struggling right now with working long hours.

Jill: So, how is burnout affecting the discipline of OB-GYN specifically? What are you seeing as a professional in that practice?

Dr. Diana: Yeah. Our specialty within medicine has always been known as being one of the most– longer hours, a lot of stress, and just our patients really need us at all times of day. For some reason, babies love to be born in the middle of the night. [laughs] That has always been a struggle for our specialty.

So, along came our subspecialty, the OB-GYN hospitalist, in the early 2000s and we started providing in-house OB-GYN care for patients so that community doctors can stay at home and get their much-needed rest so that they can be functional in the office the next day or in the OR the next day. So, we go to hospitals, and we provide care there in labor and delivery for emergency room consults. And those doctors don’t have to come in the middle of the night to take care of their patients, because we will do it for them.

Jill: We know that anybody who spent any time studying burnout, which of course in DocWorking, we talk about a lot, knows that the two of the components that really impacted are low agency and high pressure. So, it makes sense that in the specialty of OB-GYN, you have high pressure. And as you said, you don’t have a lot of agency about when a baby is going to be born. It sounds this structure and thinking a little bit differently about how the care is delivered for babies being delivered and to the mothers who are delivering those babies is changing. 

How are patients doing with that? Because traditionally I know, thinking back to me having my own daughters, I built a relationship with my OB-GYN in the office. And so, there was a little bit of like, “Oh, gosh, I want to make sure I have this baby when you’re around to walk me through that process of delivery.” So, how does this model work for patients who have that kind of expectation?

Dr. Diana: Yeah. So, that has been a big change in the field. I think like you said, it was the tradition that whoever you saw during prenatal care for nine months, you built a relationship and then it concluded with them delivering you. Even some of these doctors, they’ve delivered the babies they’ve delivered [laughs] for those who have been in the career for a long time. But I think that nowadays, the majority of practices do either cover each other or they use a program like the one we provide where there are hospitalists in the hospital. And so, that expectation is shared with a patient from the very beginning. 

When you go to your first prenatal care visit, your doctor will probably let you know that they work in a partnership with other doctors who may be delivering them. And either they will deliver them, or their partners or the hospitalist at the hospital. So, from the beginning, you set the expectation with the patient that it might not be that one physician who will be delivering them. And since the majority of doctors work that way, because it’s really the only way that you can truly have work life balance, people have gotten used to it. 

And as long as you know that the doctor that’s taking care of you at the hospital is someone who is competent, they’re also board-certified, we have a lot more experience from a doctor that is only working in the office too. So, we bring that experience and background to any emergency situation. It’s almost more comforting to know that you’re a doctor who only works in the hospital and only deals with emergencies and therefore will know what to do, if an emergency does arise.

Jill: This is such a great example of how I can see in medicine– To me, looking at it from the outside, it looks like where practices are being adapted and when communicated with patients in a really honest and heartfelt way, they’ll adapt to it, and it makes the career so much more sustainable for somebody who no longer by signing up to be an OB-GYN is signing away their rights to any life outside of work. Am I seeing it correctly? Has that been your experience?

Dr. Diana: It has been. Our specialty does struggle with [laughs] getting people into the field more so than dermatology, radiology, or those specialties where there is more freedom to even work from home. So, just being able to show that you can have a life outside of work as a hospitalist or even as a community doctor, if you work in a hospital that has a hospitalist system, will allow us to recruit for more doctors.

We haven’t formally become a subspecialty yet, but there are more and more fellowships of OB-GYN hospitalists nowadays. There used to be maybe four of them. I think there are now probably 10 in the country and that number keeps growing for a couple of reasons. One, from a patient safety perspective, it is safer for a hospital to have a doctor in-house to handle emergencies. In our field, seconds will make a difference. And so, if you’re a hospital with an OB-GYN hospitalist system, you will have lower litigation and you’ll have lower bad outcomes. And so, you can recruit more OB-GYNs to practice out of your hospital. 

And then, the other way to look at it is, if we offer this subspecialty to those who are recent grads of an OB-GYN residency, they can have a life. When I joined OBHG, I had been out in practice for a few years, and I remember thinking that I was going backwards. I had less free time as an attending than when I was a resident. This is a funny story. I received a postcard from my employer, OBHG, that said, “Get a life,” and it was a doctor surfing. [laughs] And so, I went to the website, and they happen to be opening a program near where I lived at that time. And that’s how I joined the company many years ago. It allowed me to get married, have kids, and have work-life balance in my own life. So, I am definitely an advocate of hospitalist work for both reasons, for those who want to work in the office and not have to worry about running into the hospital. And also, if you want to be a hospitalist, it does allow you to have truly a day off when your post call, because we don’t have patients of our own.

Jill: Wow. It sounds like in your experience, it helps you from potentially being one of those statistics that we just hate to see, where 40% of, particularly women doctors, are either drastically cutting back or leaving the practice within the first 10 years of their practice. So, do you see this kind of setup, this kind of system working toward not only making the specialty more attractive, but keeping people in the specialty for longer career lives?

Dr. Diana: Definitely. Our specialty, it’s full of females. There are more female OB-GYNs going into residency now than male physicians. And we want to get married, we want to have kids. You won’t be able to have that time if you have an office full of patients that you have to see every day, who might not understand that maybe you have to take time off for childcare or for your personal life. So, it does give all of these doctors an opportunity to have a career. We desperately need OB-GYNs. So, it does allow us to keep a doctor practicing and not lose all of that care that one doctor provides.

Jill: When you say desperately need OB-GYNs, there’s a shortage within this specialty compared to other specialties of physicians, not related to the just regular physician shortage that we’re looking at?

Dr. Diana: Yeah. There’s a vast shortage within our specialty just because there’s already a shortage of doctors and on top of it, our specialty is high demand on time and also highly litigious. So, there aren’t as many OB-GYNs as there were before for our population volume. And especially in rural areas, some women have to travel hours to deliver a baby. So, if we can keep the doctor practicing out of an office and provide prenatal care, if we are doing their deliveries, then we’ve improved that community.

Jill: Dr. Diana Glasser, you’ve really given us a lot to think about how changing the structure and practice of the way things have always been done, to move them in a new direction, to make the practice more sustainable from a work-life balance perspective. I think it’s just a really creative solution toward working away from burnout and toward a long, sustainable career. And you took our Burnout quiz on the DocWorking website. 

Dr. Diana: [laughs] 

Jill: And I think you’re a good example. You took that quiz and how did you do on it?

Dr. Diana: I did well. It said that I had a great work-life balance. I feel like I do. I work my 24-hour shifts, and I’m there, I’m dedicated, and I get everything done. And then when I’m off, I’m off.

Jill: That is a really good way to make this work more sustainable, is to give yourself clear boundaries of what I like to call based on the work of author, Bridget Schulte, contaminated and uncontaminated time. And so, when you’re letting yourself be off during your off time, that’s uncontaminated time where you really get to just recharge your batteries. So, thanks again for this conversation and for giving us these great ideas. If somebody wants to learn more about what you’re doing, what’s the best way for them to reach you?

Dr. Diana: Our website, obhg.com, is where you can get more information on starting a program, on joining the hospitalist, and it also has our contact information for all the leaders of the company.

Jill: Thank you so much. Thanks all of you for joining us as part of this conversation. We want to hear from you. Check us out at docworking.com. Take the Burnout quiz, see where you are on the balanced to burnout continuum. And make sure you tell your friends about the podcast as well. Until next time, I’m Jill Farmer on DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast.

[music]

Jen: At DocWorking, we’re here to help you maximize your potential on your own terms and help you live your best life. Top executives, athletes, actors all achieve greatness with the support of professional coaches. As a healthcare professional, you deserve ongoing coaching towards success in your career and in your life outside of work helping you to balance and integrate work and life in the personalized way that is specific to you. At DocWorking, your success is defined by you and our coaching programs help accelerate your path to get you there. And since our programs come with CME credit, you can let your CME budget help you to prioritize your own wellbeing. Please check us out at docworking.com and until next time, thank you for listening to DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast.

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