BackTable / ENT / Podcast / Episode #74
Is Burnout For Real? Physician Well-Being
with Dr. Alain Sabri and Dr. Kerry Olsen
In this episode of BackTable ENT, Dr. Julie Wei, Dr. Alain Sabri (Mayo Clinic Abu Dhabi), and Dr. Kerry Olsen (Mayo Clinic Rochester) discuss personal and professional strategies to overcome physician burnout.
BackTable, LLC (Producer). (2022, October 18). Ep. 74 – Is Burnout For Real? Physician Well-Being [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from https://www.backtable.com
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Dr. Alain Sabri
Dr. Alain Sabri is a consultant otolaryngologist and head and neck surgeron with Mayo Clinic in Abu Dhabi.
Dr. Kerry Olsen
Dr. Kerry Olsen is an otolaryngologist and head and neck surgeron with Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
Dr. Julie Wei
Dr. Julie Wei is a pediatric ENT surgeon, professor, clinical researcher, author, and speaker.
First, the doctors discuss their personal motivations for engaging in wellness. For Dr. Sabri, wellness evolved as his career matured. Eventually, he moved abroad and studied cross-cultural practices of wellness. For Dr. Kerry, leadership roles forced him to have concern about the wellness of his employees, leading him to create his own company, 12 For Health. For Dr. Wei, a medical condition forced her to think about her life outside of the OR. All three doctors agree that head and neck surgeons have one of the highest burnout rates and the first step to solving this problem is recognizing burnout as a problem and not being ashamed of it.
Then, they discuss the impact that corporate influence has on medicine and physician wellness. Many physicians may feel stuck in a system they have no say in. Dr. Olsen encourages healthcare corporations to prioritize patient and physician welfare over finances while Dr. Sabri encourages institutional leadership to actually listen and elicit change when their physicians provide feedback. Dr. Olsen then explains how raising salaries to justify longer hours actually incentivizes doctors to cut their hours and makes it easier for them to leave. Additionally, both Dr. Wei and Dr. Sabri agree that the feelings of burnout can fluctuate from day to day.
Next, the doctors emphasize the importance of feeling valued as a physician and engaging in self-care techniques. Dr. Olsen advocates for training physicians to be leaders who get to know their team well and recognizes good work at an appropriate time. Dr. Sabri criticizes the American “hyper statistical” view that does not respect people for the work they do. He advises physicians to select the right institution for them and have the courage to walk away and reinvent themselves in new positions when they feel like they are not receiving the respect they deserve. Self-care techniques the doctors recommend from personal experience are: re-reading patient and mentee thank you notes, meditation, stretching, team sports, having a coffee with a friend, and learning how to say no to excess work and toxic relationships.
Finally, the doctors discuss how institutional leadership can help women surgeons succeed and prevent burnout. Dr. Olsen adds that leadership needs to change if the current leaders are not effective and explains ways to form effective work units.
Disclaimer: The Materials available on BackTable.com are for informational and educational purposes only and are not a substitute for the professional judgment of a healthcare professional in diagnosing and treating patients. The opinions expressed by participants of the BackTable Podcast belong solely to the participants, and do not necessarily reflect the views of BackTable.