There is a looming epidemic of stress and burnout among physicians and other healthcare professionals, and the same factors are a risk and concern for medical physicists. Healthcare organizations have begun to respond to this issue, developing approaches to manage and promote employee wellness as a way to accomplish the overall business objectives of the organization. Initial steps often address the individual and focus on treating the symptoms of job-related stress, while a successful long-term strategy must identify and address the systematic root causes, which include: lack of efficiency and/or resources; excessive workload and job demands; insufficient control and flexibility; lack of meaning in work; misalignment of individual with organizational culture and values; lack of social support and community at work; and inadequate work-life integration.
Medical physicists under high stress face serious risks to their own physical, mental, and emotional health while operating with diminished capacity to ensure the safety of themselves, their patients, and their colleagues. Burnout creates a vicious cycle in which work performance, sense of fulfillment, and personal and family life degrade, further exacerbating burnout. The detachment and dehumanization that characterize burned-out individuals directly threaten the safety of patients under their care and weaken the collaboration and cooperation needed in modern interdisciplinary healthcare.
While the problem of stress and burnout is widely recognized and growing in recognition, further research is needed to develop evidence-based interventions that can succeed in reducing stress and the likelihood of burnout in order to validate and support the benefit-cost case for healthcare organizations to implement these measures. Existing research on medical physicists confirms that concerns exist, but has not yet elucidated many effective organizational strategies to mitigate burnout and its downstream consequences.
1. Identify the symptoms of stress and burnout in healthcare professionals
2. Understand the individual and system factors leading to stress and burnout in healthcare and assess the potential impact of burned-out medical physicists on quality and safety for patients and staff
3. Describe effective interventions for prevention and correction of burnout in medical physicists
Not Applicable / None Entered.