Easing the Burden

We’re all searching for strategies to thrive in a demanding environment.

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As physicians, we go to work every day to provide high-quality and safe care for our patients. But what about our own health and well-being? Are you feeling exhausted, depersonalized, or unengaged? Could you be burned out? Unfortunately, you wouldn’t be the only one.

We know that healthy physicians take the best care of their patients, provide a happy workplace environment, and can reduce costs while boosting value. But what happens when they burn out? Although rates vary at different stages of physicians’ careers, burnout is still higher among physicians as a whole when compared to the rest of the working population.1 Some believe radiologists are particularly prone to its disruptive and far-reaching consequences. Burnout can lead to depression, substance abuse, and suicide. It is also linked to inappropriate workplace behavior, reduced productivity, absenteeism, and staff turnover.2,3

In the 2018 ACR Commission on Human Resources Workforce Survey sent to radiology practice leaders, the topic of burnout was studied for the first time. The HR Commission looks forward to presenting these results in the JACR® in the coming months.

Research shows multiple levels of responsibility for addressing burnout and well-being. System-wide efforts must begin at the top of the organization. Organizations need to implement strategies to promote engagement and reduce burnout. This could be resiliency training, meditation programs, local employee assistance programs, small radiologist group meetings, and physical exercise as tools to combat burnout (learn more about how physical activity can decrease stress and increase productivity on page 14). Responsibility then moves down into the departmental, divisional, and group levels, and finally the individual level.4 In the 2019 survey, we plan to address changes and solutions that could be implemented in the practice environment.

Burnout has been identified, defined, and assessed by many groups. Now what we need are actual solutions. The ACR Commis­sion on Human Resources calls for this action for the well-being of our colleagues and our patients.


  1. Shanafelt T, Boone S, Tan L, et al. Burnout and satisfaction with work-life balance among US physicians relative to the general US population. Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(18):1377– 85. Available at bit.ly/US_Burnout.
  2. Nicola R, McNeeley MF, Bhargava P. Burnout in radiology. Curr Probl Diagn Radiol. 2015;44(5):389-390. Available at bit.ly/Radiology_Burnout.
  3. Peckham C. Medscape radiology lifestyle report 2016: bias and burnout. Jan. 13, 2016. Available at bit.ly/Bias_Burnout.
  4. Shanafelt T, Noseworthy J. Executive Leadership and Physician Well-being: Nine Organizational Strategies to Promote Engagement and Reduce Burnout. Mayo Clin Proc. 2017;92(1):129–146. Available at bit.ly/Phys_WellBeing.

By Claire E. Bender, MD, MPH, FACR, Chair of the ACR Commission on Human Resources
Guest Columnist

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