Organizational Factors Affecting Physician Well-Being
Purpose of review
Symptoms of burnout affect approximately half of pediatricians and pediatric subspecialists at any given time, with similarly concerning prevalence of other aspects of physician distress, including fatigue, depressive symptoms, and suicidal ideation. Physician well-being affects quality of care, patient satisfaction, and physician turnover. Organizational factors influence well-being, stressing the need for organizations to address this epidemic.
Organizational characteristics, policies, and culture influence physician well-being, and specific strategies may support an environment where physicians thrive. We highlight four organizational opportunities to improve physician well-being: developing leaders, cultivating community and organizational culture, improving practice efficiency, and optimizing administrative policies. Leaders play a key role in aligning organizational and individual values, promoting professional fulfillment, and fostering a culture of collegiality and social support among physicians. Reducing documentation burden and improving practice efficiency may help balance job demands and resources. Finally, reforming administrative policies may reduce work-home conflict, support physician’s efforts to attend to their own well-being, and normalize use of supportive resources.
Physician well-being is critical to organizational success, sustainment of an adequate workforce, and optimal patient outcomes. Because burnout is primarily influenced by organizational factors, organizational interventions are key to promoting well-being. Developing supportive leadership, fostering a culture of wellness, optimizing practice efficiency, and improving administrative policies are worthy of organizational action and further research.
KeywordsOrganizational factors Burnout Physician well-being Physician engagement
This work was supported by the Stanford WellMD Center and the Stanford Maternal and Child Health Research Institute. Dr. Profit’s effort was in part funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development [R01 HD084679–01].
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
Daniel S. Tawfik reports grants from Stanford Maternal and Child Health Research Institute during the conduct of the study. Tait D. Shanafelt reports in addition, Dr. Shanafelt has a patent, Dr. Shanafelt is co-inventor of the Physician Well-being Index, Medical Student Well-Being Index, Nurse Well-being Index, Well-being Index, and the Participatory Management Leadership Index. The Mayo Clinic holds the copyright for this instrument and has licensed it for use outside of Mayo Clinic. Dr. Shanafelt receives a portion of any royalties paid to the Mayo Clinic. As an international expert on the topic of physician well-being, Dr. Shanafelt frequently is asked to present Grand Rounds lectures and keynote presentations as well as provide advising to different healthcare organizations and he frequently receives honoraria for these activities, with royalties paid. Jochen Profit reports grants from NIH, during the conduct of the study. Sarah Webber declares no conflicts of interest.
Human and Animal Rghts and Informed Consent
This article does not contain any studies with animal subjects performed by any of the authors. All reported studies/experiments with human subjects performed by the authors have been previously published and complied with all applicable ethical standards (including the Helsinki Declaration and its amendments, institutional/national research committee standards, and international/institutional guidelines).
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