Meeting News

ACP Opening Session stresses importance of friendships to combat burnout

PHILADELPHIA — Positive, supportive relationships with others can help improve the well-being of both patients and physicians, according to the Opening Session at the ACP Internal Medicine Meeting.

While the prevalence or incidence of loneliness is not fully understood, it is common among Americans, Vivek H. Murthy, MD, MBA, 19th Surgeon General of the United States, said during the ceremony.

Studies have shown that loneliness is associated with higher risks of heart disease, dementia, anxiety and depression and shorter lifespan, he said.

“Whether we know it or not, we are dealing with many patients who are struggling with loneliness,” he said.

“Social connection is a healing force that we need to cultivate, but is often neglected and taken for granted,” he said.

Loneliness is relevant to physicians because it affects patients and their willingness and ability to engage in plans of care, according to Murthy, but loneliness also impacts physicians, he said, adding that it is just as common, if not more common, among physicians than the general population.

Burnout is an incredible strain on practicing medicine,” he said.

The culture and nature of medicine and lack of tools and training to help physicians care for themselves all contribute to burnout, he said.

“Another contributing factor of burnout that is not often talked about is the moral gap between the ideals of what brought us to the profession and what we are actually living out,” Murthy said. “Most physicians came to this profession because they want to release suffering and contribute to society in a meaningful way. The more that gap grows, the less energy we bring to the work place.”

“As we think about how to build a profession that better serves us and our patients, we have to think about how to rebuild that sense of connection and community because that is what I believe will ultimately sustain us in the long run,” he said.

Since health care systems are not designed to be focused on well-being, physicians increasingly need to take it upon themselves and learn how to advocate and organize more effectively within the profession to change health care systems for the better, according to Murthy.

“It is harder for health systems to ignore and resist the voices of clinicians when they come together and advocate for change within their institution,” he said.

“Developing tools for advocacy and organizing is as important now in medicine as learning how to bill, chart in the EHR and examine a patient because the truth is if we can’t advocate for what the health system, physicians and patients need, then we are going to be the victim of forces outside that aren’t always aligned with optimal patient outcomes and well-being,” Murthy said.

Murthy noted the importance of “microdosing appreciation,” or taking small amounts of time a few times a day to be appreciative during every day activities, such as turning a door knob or washing hands.

Data has shown that gratitude and appreciation are powerful sources for renewing and changing emotional state, according to Murthy.

“In a culture that is highly individual, the reality is that we cannot do our work alone and we were not designed as people to do it alone — we were designed to be interdependent creatures,” he said. “We need to support, reaffirm and take care of each other to improve well-being.”

“Our ability to recognize that and take care of each other must be at the heart of our strategy to build a more sustainable profession,” he added.

Supporting each other can do more to sustain physicians’ energy, enthusiasm and passion for the profession than any structural change, he said.

“We cannot leave out the power of fellowship and friendship,” he said. – by Alaina Tedesco

 

Reference:

Murthy VH. Opening Ceremony. Presented at: ACP Internal Medicine Annual Meeting. April 11-13, 2019; Philadelphia.

Disclosure: Healio Primary Care Today was unable to confirm relevant financial disclosures prior to publication.

PHILADELPHIA — Positive, supportive relationships with others can help improve the well-being of both patients and physicians, according to the Opening Session at the ACP Internal Medicine Meeting.

While the prevalence or incidence of loneliness is not fully understood, it is common among Americans, Vivek H. Murthy, MD, MBA, 19th Surgeon General of the United States, said during the ceremony.

Studies have shown that loneliness is associated with higher risks of heart disease, dementia, anxiety and depression and shorter lifespan, he said.

“Whether we know it or not, we are dealing with many patients who are struggling with loneliness,” he said.

“Social connection is a healing force that we need to cultivate, but is often neglected and taken for granted,” he said.

Loneliness is relevant to physicians because it affects patients and their willingness and ability to engage in plans of care, according to Murthy, but loneliness also impacts physicians, he said, adding that it is just as common, if not more common, among physicians than the general population.

Burnout is an incredible strain on practicing medicine,” he said.

The culture and nature of medicine and lack of tools and training to help physicians care for themselves all contribute to burnout, he said.

“Another contributing factor of burnout that is not often talked about is the moral gap between the ideals of what brought us to the profession and what we are actually living out,” Murthy said. “Most physicians came to this profession because they want to release suffering and contribute to society in a meaningful way. The more that gap grows, the less energy we bring to the work place.”

“As we think about how to build a profession that better serves us and our patients, we have to think about how to rebuild that sense of connection and community because that is what I believe will ultimately sustain us in the long run,” he said.

Since health care systems are not designed to be focused on well-being, physicians increasingly need to take it upon themselves and learn how to advocate and organize more effectively within the profession to change health care systems for the better, according to Murthy.

“It is harder for health systems to ignore and resist the voices of clinicians when they come together and advocate for change within their institution,” he said.

“Developing tools for advocacy and organizing is as important now in medicine as learning how to bill, chart in the EHR and examine a patient because the truth is if we can’t advocate for what the health system, physicians and patients need, then we are going to be the victim of forces outside that aren’t always aligned with optimal patient outcomes and well-being,” Murthy said.

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Murthy noted the importance of “microdosing appreciation,” or taking small amounts of time a few times a day to be appreciative during every day activities, such as turning a door knob or washing hands.

Data has shown that gratitude and appreciation are powerful sources for renewing and changing emotional state, according to Murthy.

“In a culture that is highly individual, the reality is that we cannot do our work alone and we were not designed as people to do it alone — we were designed to be interdependent creatures,” he said. “We need to support, reaffirm and take care of each other to improve well-being.”

“Our ability to recognize that and take care of each other must be at the heart of our strategy to build a more sustainable profession,” he added.

Supporting each other can do more to sustain physicians’ energy, enthusiasm and passion for the profession than any structural change, he said.

“We cannot leave out the power of fellowship and friendship,” he said. – by Alaina Tedesco

 

Reference:

Murthy VH. Opening Ceremony. Presented at: ACP Internal Medicine Annual Meeting. April 11-13, 2019; Philadelphia.

Disclosure: Healio Primary Care Today was unable to confirm relevant financial disclosures prior to publication.

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