An Emphasis on the Bedside May Prevent Physician Burnout

Many physicians suffer from intense stress that can lead to burnout. Is emphasizing bedside care a possible solution?

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.

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