An Emphasis on the Bedside May Prevent Physician Burnout
Being a doctor requires long hours, including a significant amount of time away from family and friends. In addition, the rigors of the profession – such as its fast pace and what’s often at stake – can create stress.
As a result, physician burnout is a very real job hazard. However, according to a 2016 article in Consumer Affairs, “being present and mindful” with patients may be able to prevent burnout. In other words, by practicing “old fashioned” bedside manner and listening to patients, doctors can counteract some of the pressures they feel outside the exam room.
How does it work? Sandra Argenio, MD, from the Institute for Healthcare Excellence says physicians may be suffering from “compassion fatigue,” a circumstance addressed by strengthening bedside manner skills. She tells Consumer Affairs, “People need to be able to keep their compassion, but it’s hard to do if you're overworked and tired, not eating and missing your family. … We realized that [when people were] interacting and communicating a little better, it produced a safety net that allowed better interaction, allowed people to feel more connected and produced a sort of resiliency.”
Compassion and resiliency seem to be at the core of what physicians can gain (or get back) when they improve their ability to connect with patients. Argenio says, in part, these benefits are the result of “learning how to listen to patients and shut out other pressures and concerns, at least for that patient visit.” In other words, there's an inherent value in learning to be present, and we here at Stanford 25 agree.
Humility is an underappreciated skill in a time of global budgets, evidenced based approaches, and cost-containment. The bright, well-read, talented medical students who may lack humility are not uncommon.
Patient-centered care is an important aspect of the National Strategy for Quality Improvement on Health Care. As such, healthcare institutions are strongly focusing on the patient-physician relationship and the patient experience.
The editor-in-chief of Medscape, Dr. Eric Topol, visited Stanford to sit down and do an interview with our Dr. Vergese for the Medscape One-on-One online video series.
Peter Conrad, a sociologist at Brandeis University, spoke of the rise and fall of the medical authority in the doctor patient office encounter in his many scholarly articles. With the internet becoming the “elephant in the doctor’s office,” the dynamic of medical authority has certainly changed…