According to the 2022 Physician Burnout and Depression report by Medscape, nearly half of the 13,000 physicians surveyed across all specialties reported feeling burned out last year. Drill down to pathologists and 35 percent of those surveyed reported feeling burned out in 2021. It may be easy to assume that the drudges of the COVID-19 pandemic were the top contributors to physician burnout and depression, however the Medscape report found that bureaucratic tasks (eg, charting paperwork) topped the list of reasons at 60 percent.
“The truth is, as pathologists we must complete a significant amount of bureaucratic tasks from transcription systems and administrative duties,” said Marisa Saint Martin, MD, FCAP, “not to mention the inherent pressure of making correct diagnoses. Those things added with the professional isolation of being removed from other specialties can make fighting burn out or depression tough.”
“Pathologists’ wellness was top of mind prior to the pandemic and will continue to be front of mind for those in practice, leadership positions, and those just beginning their career, that’s why it’s important for the CAP and members to highlight and share resources to assist in the health of our colleagues and the specialty.
Michael Cohen, MD, FCAP
Instituted in April 2021 by the Council on Membership and Professional Development, the Wellness Project Team was charged to define member needs related to wellness and burnout. There are 12 Wellness Project Team members, co-chaired by Michael Cohen, MD, FCAP, and Marisa Saint-Martin, MD, FCAP. The primary objective of the project team was to understand member needs related to wellness and the impact of burn out on pathologists. With this knowledge, the project team worked to surface wellness resources across the CAP and create ongoing educational activities available to members to ensure they could access the tools, training, and education necessary to avoid burn out and depression.
“As the leading organization for pathologists, the CAP has a treasure trove of materials and subject matter experts who are dedicated to pathologist wellness,” said Cohen. “From thought leaders like Crystal A. Moore, MD, PhD, FCAP, to the vast number of presentations and articles about wellness, we want our members to know that the CAP understands their needs and is here to support them.”
Christina Arnold, MD, associate professor in the University of Colorado’s Digestive Disease Service, as well as a certified professional coach with more than 1,100 hours of physician coaching experience offers five tips for avoiding burnout. Click here to read.
This book provides a basic understanding of how ethics and professionalism impact pathology and laboratory medicine. Including more than 100 case vignettes to guide discussion, this texts also includes a section on physician health and wellness. Click here to purchase.
Gina Drobena, MD, FCAP, chief of pathology for the clinical laboratory at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, discusses how physician burn out impacts female pathologists and ways to confront and cope with these challenges. Click here to listen.
This CAPcast features an audio recording of a virtual roundtable discussion about pathologist wellness and resilience in the face of burnout, which was hosted by the CAP’s Practice Management Committee earlier in 2021. Moderated by Karim Sirgi, MD, panelists include Gina Ann Drobena, MD, who is a pathologist at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Dr. Judy Melinek, CEO of Pathology Expert. Click here to listen.
In the CAP18 Scientific Plenary, hosts Bryan Bohman, MD; Timothy Bono, PhD; James S. Hernandez, MD, FCAP, candidly discussed the epidemic of physician burn out, including national statistics and stories. They cite the sources (it’s not what you think) and signs of burn out, and the negative impact it has on the individual physician, the practice, and ultimately, the patient. Click here to watch the video.
The National Academy of Medicine (NAM) has an excellent, collaborative website focused on the well-being and resilience (the flip side of burnout) of healthcare providers, including physicians. Learn more.