If there’s a single value most important in forestalling physician burnout—and supporting physician resilience in general—it’s open and honest communication between physicians and their leaders. From the leadership side, promoting good communication requires paying attention on two levels: the institutional and the interpersonal.

Institutional Communication

  1. Leadership promotes a culture of physician care where communication is valued. “Healthcare leadership must work with physicians in recognizing the early signs of stress and burnout,” we write in our article “How to Lead the Way Toward Physician Well Being” This involves “talking with healthcare providers who need support and reducing barriers while building a culture of well being and care.”1
  2. Leadership creates well being workshops to provide physicians with information about well being, resilience and burnout solutions and also offer the practitioners opportunities to talk about the stresses of balancing their work and personal lives.

Interpersonal Communication

  1. Leaders listen. athenahealth’s 2016 Physician Health and Leadership Index gathered the views of 2,000 physicians about their organizations’ leadership. While the doctors surveyed valued leaders who communicated a compelling vision for their organizations, a surprise result stated “incoming communication”—being a good listener, willing to take feedback from others—was a more important leadership value for them than “outgoing communication.”2
  2. Leaders are proactive. For Rob Cosinuke, senior vice president and CMO of athenahealth in Watertown, Massachusetts, leaders have a responsibility to create channels of communication. “Get out and seek input,” he writes on the athenaInsight website. “Walk the halls, set up one-on-ones and hold feedback sessions. …If leaders aren’t proactively listening, chances are they are setting themselves up for failure.”3

Communication is the number-one presenting issue driving the need for physician interventions. VITAL WorkLife can help in this crucial arena; we offer facilitated workshops on communication issues, tailored to the needs of any organization, as well as providing intervention support for struggling physicians with programs lasting up to a year to build sustainable behavior change.

Do you want to learn more about tools and training to help improve communication? Contact VITAL WorkLife today.

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References:

1. “How to Lead the Way Toward Physician Well Being” by VITAL WorkLife
2. Cited in Rob Cosinuke, “Communication Is the Most Important Healthcare Leadership Trait,” athenainsight , July 15, 2016 https://www.athenahealth.com/insight/communication-is-the-most-important-healthcare-leadership-trait/traits
3. Rob Cosinuke, “Communication Is the Most Important Healthcare Leadership Trait,” athenainsight , July 15, 2016 https://www.athenahealth.com/insight/communication-is-the-most-important-healthcare-leadership-trait/traits