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Medical Physicist Wellness: The Personal and Professional Toll of Burnout

D Jordan1*, T Pawlicki2*, (1) University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, Shaker Heights, OH, (2) UC San Diego, La Jolla, CA


(Monday, 4/1/2019) 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Room: Osceola Ballroom C

A “perfect storm� of factors has led to a decline in physician wellness and a crisis of stress and burnout. The same factors affect medical physicists and there is anecdotal evidence that levels of stress and burnout are increasing. Maintenance of medical physicist wellness through management of stress and burnout is crucial to safe and effective patient care, personal and professional satisfaction, and the prevention of errors. There are effective strategies to identify and combat burnout and to restore practitioners to a state of well-being. Systematic problems must be recognized and addressed, beyond individual interventions designed to temporarily address stress (the symptom).

This symposium will present causes of burnout stemming from systematic problems that exist at departmental, institutional, and national levels in the healthcare system. Concepts and approaches for recognizing stress and burnout, acknowledging the root causes, and implementing short-term survival tactics and longer-term corrective strategies will be discussed. It is important for individual medical physics to realize that the problem is not caused by a lack of skill, ability, or effort on their part. At the same time, medical physicists must be able to recognize warning signs of burnout in themselves and others and to understand the adverse impact that a burned-out professional can create in the quality of patient care and the effectiveness of their colleagues. Presenters will guide attendees in active exercises on personal wellness assessment and strategies for managing burnout.

Learning Objectives:
1. Define wellness, stress, and burnout in medical physics professional practice and briefly review relevant literature on physician burnout and managing worker wellness.
2. Identify systematic sources of stress and root causes of burnout arising from individual, departmental, organizational, and national factors, as well as characteristics of successful interventions that have been used at each level.
3. Describe strategies for recognizing signs of burnout in self and colleagues and “emergency� interventions to stabilize a professional who is potentially impaired due to stress and burnout.


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