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Journal of Medical Regulation Offers Special CME Edition on Physician Wellness and Burnout

Authors Offer New Approaches to Addressing an Increasingly Common Condition Among Health Care Practitioners

(August 3, 2018) The Journal of Medical Regulation (JMR) announced today the publication of a special Continuing Medical Education edition addressing physician wellness and burnout – a serious issue that is on the rise in the United States.

Studies have shown that at any time, as many as half of U.S. physicians may be suffering from at least one symptom of burnout, which has been documented to be a threat to patient safety and effective medical care. Major health care organizations, including the National Academy of Medicine, have launched initiatives recently to address the issue.

Burnout is a psychological response that may be experienced by those exposed to chronic stress in the health care practice environment, and it may include overwhelming exhaustion, feelings of cynicism and detachment from work and a sense of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment. Burnout among physicians, physician assistants and others may lead to unprofessional behavior and surgical or diagnostic medical errors.

The special themed-edition of JMR includes four articles and the full text of a new policy on physician wellness and burnout adopted recently by the Federation of State Medical Boards, which publishes JMR. The articles, available free online, are approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™.

Articles include:

  • Physician Mental Health: An Evidence-Based Approach to Change. Christine Moutier, MD, examines how barriers – including confi­dentiality concerns and fear of negative ramifi­cations on one’s reputation, licensure, or hospital privileging — keep many physicians from addressing their mental health needs. She summarizes several initiatives with demonstrated effectiveness in medical settings that can be scaled up for greatest impact, ranging from education and stigma reduction efforts to policies and procedures that treat mental health on par with physical health and efforts that promote an overarching culture of respect.
  • FSMB Efforts on Physician Wellness and Burnout. Arthur S. Hengerer, MD, FACS; Mark L. Staz, MA; and Humayun J. Chaudhry, DO, MACP, highlight the Federation of State Medical Boards’ efforts to address physician burnout and wellness – including the establishment of a special work group to study the issue and adoption in April of formal policy on burnout and wellness by the FSMB’s House of Delegates. The authors believe that solutions to the issue must be aimed at improving the medical practice environment, systems of health care delivery, and hurdles that may keep physicians from seeking help when they need it – including changing the way hospital and state licensing boards forms pose questions related to mental health.
  • Update on the UC San Diego Healer Education Assessment and Referral (HEAR) Program. William A. Norcross, MD, et al., describe an innovative approach to wellness and burnout created by UC San Diego in collaboration with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention called the Healer Education Assessment and Referral (HEAR) Program. Over the course of nearly 10 years, the program – launched in the aftermath of physician suicides -- has successfully implemented intervention strategies aimed at preventing mental health issues and suicide among medical students, residents, medical faculty, pharmacists, nurses and clinical staff within the UC San Diego Health system.
  • Facilitating Help-Seeking Behavior Among Medical Trainees and Physicians Using the Interactive Screening Program. Maggie Mortali, MPH, and Christine Moutier, MD, describe the Interactive Screening Program (ISP), adapted by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention for use by medical schools nationwide to lower the risk of depression and suicide by medical students, residents and faculty physicians. The authors utilized data from six medical schools’ implementation of ISP over a seven-year period to quantify the openness of individuals to engage in help-seeking behavior, including meeting with counselors and seeking other mental health treatment.
  • Report and Recommendations of the FSMB Workgroup on Physician Wellness and Burnout. The full text of the FSMB’s recently adopted formal policy on physician wellness and burnout offers analysis of what has contributed to the rise of burnout among practitioners and 35 recommendations on how it can be more effectively addressed.

In a commentary leading off the special edition, JMR Editor in Chief Heidi M. Koenig, MD, called for state medical boards to step forward and work with diverse stakeholders in health care to seek solutions.

“We see more and more media stories about the impact on patients as physicians leave medical practices and, in some cases, even commit suicide as a result of burnout,” she said. “In the face of all this, the time has come to help the healers heal themselves — and return to productivity and career fulfillment.”

Also included in this issue of JMR is an article by authors from the National Board of Medical Examiners and the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates discussing perceptions of U.S. residency program directors about the utility of the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination’s Step 2 Clinical Skills component.

To access the special JMR CME issue, visit http://bit.ly/2n99xGR

The Journal of Medical Regulation is a quarterly publication of the Federation of State Medical Boards. Visit http://www.jmronline.org/ to learn more.

About the Federation of State Medical Boards

The Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) is a national non-profit organization representing all medical boards within the United States and its territories that license and discipline allopathic and osteopathic physicians and, in some jurisdictions, other health care professionals. The FSMB serves as the voice for state medical boards, supporting them through education, assessment, research and advocacy while providing services and initiatives that promote patient safety, quality health care and regulatory best practices. To learn more about FSMB, visit www.fsmb.org. You can also follow FSMB on Twitter (@theFSMB).

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