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Getting Connected

Getting ConnectedOne of the stressors identified in leading to burnout is lack of community or the sense of being isolated. This can be a physical separation from colleagues or a sense of lack of a culture of mutual appreciation or teamwork.1

“The need for connection and community is primal, as fundamental as the need for air, water and food.”
-Dean Ornish

“As the world becomes a more digital place, we cannot forget about the human connection.”
-Adam Neumann

The Disappearance of the Physician Lounge
Even where these physical spaces still exist, there is less interaction among providers and more dictation and paperwork. This space provided collegiality, a shared common experience and a place to discuss challenging cases and stressors. We need to create our own replacement for the physician lounge.2,3

A study from the Mayo Clinic compared the impact of facilitated small groups that met one hour every two weeks away from clinical duties to providers that were given an unstructured hour every two weeks free from clinical duties. They found that the intervention group had a significantly lower rate of burnout, depersonalization and high emotional exhaustion and more often found their work meaningful.4

The authors subsequently designed a randomized controlled trial to examine the impact of biweekly one-hour meetings of six to eight academic internal medicine physicians. These groups were called Colleagues Meeting to Promote and Sustain Satisfaction (COMPASS) groups.

During these outings, 15 minutes were spent discussing a topic related to the physician experience and during the remaining time the participants enjoyed a shared activity. Using a validated questionnaire, they discovered that the intervention group had significantly improved quality of life, professional satisfaction and higher job satisfaction and meaning from work.5

A survey in the American Journal of Medicine asked physicians to list the top two factors that most sustain your sense of meaning. Clinical care was listed by 53% of respondents and second was teamwork, which was listed by 24% of respondents. Teamwork is one of the suggested ways to improve clinical efficiency as well. This is a way to enhance connection within your own office while optimizing practices.6

The American Medical Association STEPS Forward series says that creating a strong team culture7 involves everyone in the office and attempts to align values, streamline processes, and create an integrated team in which people can communicate and listen to each other through more face-to-face interactions. This can allow for delegation, continuous learning and efficiency. In so doing, the physician should be able to complete his or her work more efficiently, have more support and thus hopefully feel more supported.

Additional ways to be connected:8
•    Participate in your local, regional or state medical society
•    Classes and CME
•    Volunteer
•    Join a group (can be related to medicine or not)
•    Have lunch with a colleague or staff

1.    Maslach C. Leiter MP. The Truth About Burnout: How Organizations Cause Personal Stress and What to Do About It. San Francisco, California. Jossey-Bass; 1997
4.    West C et al. Intervention to Promote Physician Well-being, Job Satisfaction, and Professionalism. A randomized clinical trial. JAMA IM 2014;174(4):527-533
5.    A Randomized Controlled Trial Evaluating the Effect of COMPASS (Colleagues Meeting to Promote and Sustain Satisfaction) Small Group Sessions on Physician Well-being. JGIM 2015;30:s89
6.    Adopting the Quadruple Aim: The University of Rochester Medical Center Experience Moving from Physician Burnout to Physician Resilience. American Journal of Medicine Aug 131 (8) 979-986. 2018
8. (This page is no longer on website.)