As the country opens back up, pre-pandemic stressors will make their way back into neurology practice.

Only now, there are additional challenges in running a practice brought on by 18 months of the novel coronavirus pandemic and societal unrest. That’s why preventing physician burnout is more important than ever, according to Dr. Jennifer Bickel, medical director of professional well being at Children’s Mercy in Kansas City, Missouri.

“If someone is skeptical that wellness matters or skeptical that burnout is real, they’re, frankly, behind the times and will be unable to successfully lead their teams into the future,” Bickel said in a recent presentation at the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) annual meeting.

Practice leaders cannot ignore burnout, because it has become so pervasive in the healthcare workplace today, she said. It is also top of mind for job seekers. Employees assess their current positions and desire to stay at a practice through the burnout lens.

Neurologists have been among the most burned-out physicians in the U.S. The AAN is combating the problem by generating a ton of wellness resources for its members and their institutions.

Addressing this issue within your practice is now essential, just like basic business management practices such as staff scheduling or inventory tracking. Mismanaging — or worse, ignoring — the mental well-being of yourself and your staff is problematic.

“Burnout, at its most simple, is a measure of waste,” Bickel said. It’s a waste of “some of the most highly trained and compassionate minds out there.”

Resources

NAM Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-Being and Resilience

This is a resource all leaders should be familiar with, Bickel said. Their Clinician Wellbeing Knowledge Hub “has a lot of information about case studies and how other people have been able to reduce burnout,” she said.

AMA’s Joy in Medicine Health System Recognition Program

The AMA’s Joy in Medicine program is designed for hospital systems, but Bickel said it offers a scaffolding for leaders of smaller practices to approach burnout as well. This program focuses on commitment, which is step one in addressing burnout on your team.