Antidotes to Burnout: Fostering Physician Resiliency, Well-Being, and Holistic Development

Herdley O. Paolini, PhD; Burt Bertram, EdD, LMFT, LMHC; Ted Hamilton, MD, MBA


April 19, 2013

In This Article

A Novel Idea: Whole-Physician Care

Florida Hospital -- an Orlando-based 8-campus hospital with 2200 beds, a 2000-plus physician medical staff, and more inpatient admissions annually than any other hospital in the United States -- is home to Physician Support Services, a pioneering program created to address physician burnout.

The program provides whole-person care through specialized professional resources aimed at maximizing the personal and professional well-being of Florida Hospital physicians and their families. The direct financial benefit of the program to Florida Hospital is in excess of $5 million over the past 2 years, and the program has rescued the careers of more than 100 physicians in the past 10 years.

The service includes confidential psychotherapy and coaching, continuing medical education (CME) with credit that is focused on helping physicians integrate their personal and professional lives, dialogue programs about cultivating meaning in medical practice, physician leadership development, and marriage retreats.

The Florida Hospital program is based on an in-depth and compassionate understanding of the forces affecting physicians and the practice of medicine, as well as the belief that physician leadership is crucial in envisioning and operationalizing the changes that are needed in the practice of medicine. Rather than ignoring, stigmatizing, or penalizing distressed physicians, Physician Support Services pragmatically addresses the emotional, spiritual, family, and performance issues associated with physician burnout, while intentionally developing physician leadership.

Prevention and physician wellness must become even more robust and comprehensive as we continue this period of unprecedented change in healthcare. Changes in healthcare cry out for a more holistic and integrative approach to developing physician leadership, changing medical staff cultures, and building stronger bridges of trust between healthcare leaders and physicians.