The words “Joy in Medicine” have been cropping up all over the place recently. I myself have been meaning to write a blog on the topic ever since Lee Daugherty Biddison discussed it during Medical Grand Rounds (watch her talk beginning at 25:06) during which she shared findings and solutions sought after by the Joy in Medicine Task Force commissioned by Dean Rothman. And yet now almost six months later, the topic seems as relevant as ever.

It’s no secret that clinician burnout has become a nation-wide epidemic, as evidenced in Medscape’s National Physician Burnout and Depression Report where 42 percent of physician respondents reported burnout. The School of Medicine’s own survey reported a similar 41 percent with mild to severe symptoms of burnout. This prompted the creation of the dean’s task force in January 2017 with the aims of identifying barriers, assessing the degree, developing/implementing strategies and improving engagement. Some of the key takeaways from the task force were that we need to transform our culture and approach to work-life balance, expand pathways to promotion, focus on advancement and education, and eliminate inefficiencies. Personally, I hoped the task force would bring about at least one tangible solution to burnout that we could implement within our own department. What it actually inspired is much, much more. Click here to view Lee’s synopsis of the efforts of our Clinical Affairs team to improve provider satisfaction. I am extremely grateful to this team including Lee, Kim Peairs, Carrie Herzke, Steve Berry, Mary Jo Appel, Sarah Disney and more for all they have done and continue to do to improve the lives of our clinicians.

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Andrea Sikon speaking at the inaugural Clinical Retreat

This year, we had our inaugural Clinical Retreat because this piece had been missing in our efforts to celebrate all our missions equally. Burnout was one of the topics addressed directly by our keynote speaker Andrea Sikon, and she helped us to understand that burnout is a balance between practices we can control and features of our environment that take control away from us. The day was finished with a truly uplifting display of master clinicians showing clinical reasoning at its best—highlighting one of the real joys in medicine. Moving forward, we will continue to acknowledge and celebrate our clinical accomplishments annually (I hope you’ll attend next year) as well as work with our vice chairs and you, our faculty, to improve our environment as a place to practice medicine.

-Mark

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