Toward a Positive Medicine: Healing our Healers, from Burnout to Flourishing
Mental and Social Health
It is estimated that between 25-75% of physicians suffer from burnout. Symptoms of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a low sense of personal accomplishment afflict physicians as early as medical school, into residency training, and throughout medical practice, with potential consequences for patient healthcare outcomes, public health, and the costs of our health system. While medical institutions can do more to support physician, trainee, and medical student self-care, physicians cannot wait for institutional change in order to pursue well-being. A construct for physician flourishing is proposed, borrowing from and building off of prior validated constructs of psychological and physical well-being. This proposed model, known as REVAMP, focuses on six elements that comprise physician flourishing. Specific interventions to improve each of these elements are proposed that may be used by the individual practitioner, in formal medical education settings, or by practicing physicians in continuing medical education programs. Waiting to intervene until physicians are burned out and suffering has high costs; proactive approaches such as those suggested within REVAMP can be adopted as early as undergraduate medical school education to help physicians-in-training cultivate optimal wellbeing. Flourishing physicians deliver the highest quality patient care. It is time to help our healers flourish.