Health Team

Primary care physicians fight burnout

Posted September 22, 2009

Dr. Michael Schneider has been a primary care physician for 30 years. He's noticed the field has grown more stressful.

“It's something lost when we have phones ringing, consultants calling, computer screens flashing,” Schneider said.

Sixty percent of physicians report symptoms of burnout, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Researchers theorized that emotional exhaustion, low sense of accomplishment and trouble connecting with patients might improve with a course on mindfulness, which is purposeful attention focused on the present without judging thoughts.

Dr. Michael Schneider Doctors fight burnout

“Stressors sometimes become so overwhelming that we fail to see the good work that we're doing,” said Dr. Michael Krasner, of the University of Rochester’s School of Medicine.

Krasner studied 70 primary care doctors in the Rochester, New York, area who took a year-long course in mindfulness. Doctors learned ways to improve communication, and participated in meditation, group discussions and other exercises.

The research is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Participants saw both short- and long-term improvements.

“Burnout, physician empathy, physician psycho-social orientation toward patient, mood disturbance and some personality features improved significantly,” Krasner said.

Schneider said participating in the course helps him handle everyday stresses and improve his mood.

Researchers plan to follow doctors in the study to see if mindful communication could improve other facets of physician burnout, like quality of life, medical errors and doctors leaving the practice of medicine.


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  • howdiditgettothis Sep 25, 2009

    Please. Don't even talk to the general public about how bad doctors have it.

    Last time I was at a primary care doctor's office, I waited over 30 minutes for a 2 minute new patient "consult."
    How can a primary doctor know anything about you in 2 minutes, as well as perform an exam? Ridiculous.

    I am a professional with an extended college degree working directly with patients, and unlike the physicians I see,
    I am the ONE answering the phones, speaking with anyone who calls, dispensing medications, and many, many other daily duties.

    So, why not take a deep breath and rethink buying that expensive car or home doc, if you think you have it so bad?

    Your administrative staff does PLENTY to help you during your work day. If only we all had it so lucky.

    Enjoy your ride home in your luxury convertible and your weekend at your beachhouse!

  • EZeegoing Sep 23, 2009

    Every news organization who discusses health care reform points out that there are not enough primary care doctors to handle the proposed health care reform. So, how does the government propose to handle this ? Not enough doctors, more patients - do the simple math.