Asking for support is a sign of strength

PFSP Perspectives

September 12, 2018

Calls about stress and burnout have increased

Physician well-being has long been a priority for the AMA, and the organization’s Physician and Family Support Program is considered one of the best, if not the best, in the country. At its core is a 24-hour confidential assistance line for physicians, learners and their immediate families. It’s completely confidential and connects physicians with peer support and other help if needed.

Until recently, family and relationship issues have been the most common reason for calling the help line, and a large volume of calls is still dedicated to that topic. But in the past few years, calls about mental health issues, including stress and burnout, have increased in frequency and are now the number one reason people call the PFSP. Together, these two topics account for more than half of all calls.

“One of the things that makes PFSP unique among physician health programs is that when physicians call our line about burnout or any other issue, they get to speak with another physician in a confidential manner,” says Dr. Terrie Brandon, Clinical and Program Director for PFSP. “It’s another form of peer support that people have through PFSP. It’s that ability to talk to somebody who has been there, who lives the life of a physician, and can really understand the issue of burnout.”

While medicine has always been stressful, there are some relatively new stressors driving burnout in the medical workplace. For example, performance measurements, EMRs and increased documentation have all had the effect of adding to the workload and decreasing control of a physician’s work life.

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The AMA advances patient-centered, quality care by advocating for and supporting physician leadership and wellness.