Turning our Focus from Burnout to Well-Being


In 2004, a small group of individuals interested in the well-being of physicians met to discuss their observations and concerns about the fact that their colleagues were becoming disillusioned in ways previously unrecognized. They also hoped to uncover possible interventions to help allay this growing trend characterized by a sense of futility, decreased collegiality, and the erosion of traditional support systems in hospitals and physician communities. 

Out of this small group, a movement began. It is a movement rooted in wellness, fulfillment, and support. What grew from that small group and subsequent movement is today the Coalition for Physician Well-Being. With more than 300 members, the Coalition is an association of dozens of health care systems, hospitals and professional organizations which share a goal to learn together and build robust, sustainable programs to foster and promote physician well-being. 

The Coalition created the Medicus Integra© award in 2016. This distinction is awarded to organizations that support and implement programs and measures that meet criteria known to improve physician well-being. Medicus Integra© consists of four main pillars: Business & Quality, Culture, Learning, and Resilience. 

Some organizations may view implementing well-being programs as unnecessary. However, the data suggests otherwise. In fact, according to Medscape’s Physician Burnout & Depression Report 2022, 47% of physicians say they are burned out, up from 42% last year. Additionally, the ongoing pandemic continues to exacerbate conditions that erode the well-being of physicians. 

There is good news, however. Implementing programs geared toward physician wellness is doable and a worthy cause. Launching and sustaining meaningful and worthwhile well-being initiatives is essential to shifting the mindset from burnout prevention and mitigation to an overall focus on well-being and quality of life for physicians. 

While many organizations have worked to develop and deploy resources and programs, Medicus Integra© provides a reliable and measurable framework for hospitals and health care institutions to foster a significant, purposeful, and ongoing commitment to improving the well-being of physicians. 

When it comes to issues plaguing physicians and medical professionals across health care, the industry can no longer keep quiet. While we have made progress, we must continue to prioritize the health and well-being of our care providers. We owe this not only to our physicians but to the patients they have been entrusted to care for as well. 

If your organization is looking for information, resources, or best practices centered on physician wellness, or if you are an advocate interested in supporting and learning from other like-minded individuals, the Coalition for Physician Well-Being is a great place to start. There are also other organizations that have similar missions and goals. 

Regardless of the direction you go, I encourage you to in some way, get involved. The time is now! 

This article was written by Dianne McCallister, MD, MBA, and published in the Fall 2022 issue of Physician Family Magazine.


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