The Road to Wellness

Radiologists and practice leaders are taking steps to stave off burnout and find joy in their work.

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Physician wellness is recognized as a critical component of enhancing the quality of healthcare. An epidemic of symptoms related to stress and burnout among medical professionals, including radiologists, is threatening not only healthcare providers at a personal level but also the entire healthcare system. According to the 2019 Medscape National Physician Burnout and Depression Report, 45 percent of radiologists reported feeling burned out. Radiology was also found to be the 12th highest of the 29 specialties surveyed for burnout.1 These statistics pose substantial threats to our patients, colleagues, institutions, and the profession. They are associated with high turnover, poor patient outcomes, errors and suicide risk.

However, wellness is not merely the absence of burnout or disease. Wellness is the active pursuit of physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. Wellness can be thought of in terms of emotional, financial, environmental, intellectual, social, occupational, physical, and spiritual dimensions. For an individual, each dimension is not equally weighted. Each person must seek their own unique harmony among the dimensions of wellness, which are always evolving. Therefore, we must strive to be respectful, understanding, and supportive of the needs of our colleagues to cultivate a culture of wellness.

Moving forward, we will need to consider how to mitigate burnout and improve overall well-being for the members of our profession. Institutional, regulatory, and economic factors may be beyond our control. However, with introspection, creativity, and an open mind, we can adapt the way we work and interact with patients and colleagues to help us change direction.

In this special issue of the Bulletin, we will hear personal stories of burnout and resilience. Lori Deitte, MD, FACR, and Lotte N. Dyrbye, MD, MHPE, will discuss strategies for addressing burnout at the individual, institutional, and national levels. Cheri L. Canon, MD, FACR, will share ideas for creating a culture of wellness in the workplace. Reed A. Omary, MD, will demonstrate how he incorporates exercise and nature into his daily work schedule.

We hope that this issue of the Bulletin will inspire you to make changes in your practice and personal life that will improve your well-being and that of your colleagues.


By Rebecca L. Seidel, MD, assistant professor of radiology and imaging sciences at Emory University School of Medicine.

ENDNOTE

  1. National Physician Burnout, Depression and Suicide Report 2019. Medscape. Accessed March 17, 2019. Available at bit.ly/Medscape_Burnout.

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