May 09, 2017
2 min read

AAFP addresses physician burnout

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The AAFP recently announced a new initiative to combat physician burnout, called Physician Health First, that will commence in a few months.

According to the AAFP, more than 50% of family physicians suffer from at least one symptom of burnout and previous research published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine suggests the frequency of burnout among board-certified family physicians is just under 25%, with younger family physicians and women at particularly high risk.

Clif Knight, MD, senior vice president for education at AAFP, discussed the Academy’s initiative during its recent Leadership Conference.

H. Clifton Knight
Clif Knight

“Our members are experiencing a complex and frustrating health care system, and this leads to high levels of burnout and professional dissatisfaction,” he said in an article that appeared on AAFP’s website. “Recognizing that, the AAFP Board of Directors has identified the well-being of our members as a top priority.”

According to AAFP’s website, the Physician Health First program includes:

•publishing timely and informative journal articles on topics related to physician well-being on an ongoing basis;

•creating an enhanced well-being portal on AAFP’s website;

•developing a web-based well-being planning tool;

•expanding related CME tracks and workshops at the 2017 Family Medicine Experience to be held Sept. 12-16 in San Antonio;

•planning AAFP’s first health and well-being conference, scheduled for mid-April 2018; and

•working on a chapter workshop series in 2018.

“The AAFP is committed to rolling out this initiative to address the systemic and organizational factors — those “hassles in practice” — that we know create barriers to all of those dedicated family physicians who go to work every day wanting to provide high-quality and personalized care to their patients,” Knight said in the article.
The Mayo Clinic’s Program on Physician Well-Being, and a speaker at the ACP Internal Medicine Annual Meeting earlier this spring have also offered strategies to reverse physician burnout.

Also at the AAFP Leadership Conference, Paul DeChant, MD, MBA, former CEO of the Sutter Gould Medical Foundation, discussed how lean transformation — maximizing value for customers, minimizing waste, and respecting people, including the members of the clinical care team — as well as physician wellness programs, wellness coaching, shadowing clinical staff and daily huddles could shift the focus to patient care.

“The care of the patient is most important thing we do,” DeChant said in the article on AAFP’s website. “We have to give people doing the work an opportunity to do their work.”

He also acknowledged administrative burdens are taking more and more of a physician’s time away from patients, and said the health care system needs to do away with these frustrations and mend patient care processes that are in disrepair.

The AAFP sent a letter to President Donald J. Trump earlier this year asking him to reduce some of physicians’ regulatory burden. The Academy has also sent a letter to CMS, asking for MACRA’s implementation to be simplified.

Reference: Speakers Chart Paths from Physician Burnout to Well-being (Accessed 05-09-17)

Disclosure: Knight is AAFP’s senior vice president for education; Healio Family Medicine was unable to determine DeChant’s relevant financial disclosures prior to publication