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The 4 Most Common Causes of Physician Burnout in 2018

December 6, 2018

This is Part II of our three-part research series with LeverageRx, an online financial marketplace exclusively for doctors.

 

Changes in healthcare often have a domino effect on employees and patients. The medical profession has to evolve and change to share the latest in medical findings. But what if those changes cause the people that patients depend on to burnout? Recent changes in the industry are taking a serious toll on physicians. Medscape’s annual Physician Lifestyle Report surveyed more than 15,000 physicians from 29 specialties. Of survey respondents, 42% of physicians reported burnout.

 

Could change in the healthcare industry be boosting the number of physicians who experience burnout? What factors could be contributing to physician burnout?Let’s take a closer look at the four most common causes of physician burnout in 2018.

 

Relationships

Mergers and acquisitions are on the rise in healthcare. In fact, they were up 57% in the first half of 2018 compared to the same period of 2017 per The Wall Street Journal.

 

Nowadays, it can be rare to find a physician who isn’t practicing within a large healthcare group.

Due to the rising costs of owning your own practice, joining a healthcare system may seem like a no-brainer. For physicians, it means less to worry about when it comes to things like:

 

  • New technology.
  • Medical equipment.
  • Insurance.

 

But does joining a healthcare system alleviate physician burnout? Or could it actually be adding to it?

 

On one hand, these large healthcare systems can be a great fit for physicians:

 

  • With no time to run their own practice.
  • Looking to take on less risk.

 

On the other hand, large healthcare systems can be a source of stress for patients. And that patient stress often ends up taking a toll on their physician.

 

Healthcare systems tend to increase efficiency by utilizing multiple locations and specialties. For patients, this may have removed the basic comforts of seeing a local physician. Instead of calling the office’s front desk, patients pass through large, automated phone systems. Other factors that may cause stress for ill patients seeking treatment include changes in:

 

  • Location.
  • Hours of operation.
  • In-network insurance.

 

As physicians advance in their careers, their workload grows. This often times means they can no longer communicate with patients like they once could. The endless chase for answers can cause damage to the relationship a physician may have spent years building.

 

33% of physicians surveyed said that they’re easily exasperated with patients. 32% said they are less engaged with patients due to physician burnout.

 

Could this loss of loyalty be adding to physician burnout?

 

Loyalty

 

When patients lack loyalty to physicians, this causes a lack of enthusiasm for physicians. Patient loyalty may decrease due to the healthcare system and the absence of a personal touch.

 

An underlying reason for the lack of patient loyalty to physicians is insurance. For patients and healthcare systems, coverage is subject to constant change. As of 2018, many health systems see this as a concern for their business. As a result, many have transitioned from volume-based care to value-based care. Utilizing a value-based strategy should help health systems rebuild lost patient relationships. Value-based care restores relationships by offering patients easier communication and more convenience. This shift to a value-based strategy will affect physicians in several ways, including:

 

  • An increasing focus on technology.
  • A more holistic approach to health in the community.

 

Due in part to this lagging patient loyalty, physicians do not receive the praise they once did. For most physicians, the reward they seek goes beyond their paycheck. Patient approval justifies their hard work as time well spent. This attitude shift toward the medical profession raises concerns when considering the results of a recent Prophet/GE study. It found a staggering 81 percent of consumers are unsatisfied with their healthcare experience.

 

Emphasis on Profits

 

For many healthcare systems, a value-based strategy may cause additional physician burnout. This strategy requires physicians to perform more administrative tasks, which takes away from patient care.

 

For example, if testing is required under this type of strategy, it would be imperative to explain as to why the additional testing is needed. Not only is there more paperwork that falls on the responsibility of physicians, but there could be less staffed physicians. In addition, health systems routinely only contract with a percentage of physicians of one type of specialty. This lack of staff depth leads to:

 

  • Longer regular working hours.
  • More overtime hours.
  • More on-call duties.

 

The medical profession already faces a great deal of pressure and stress. Add to this a lack of work-life balance, and naturally, they are at a greater risk for depression and burnout.

 

Health systems are often for-profit based organizations. Like any industry, the desire to drive bottom lines is huge.

 

According to the 2018 Medscape compensation report, physician salaries have been on a steady incline. Supply and demand for physicians is as strong as ever. But for physicians who feel overworked and undervalued, the minor salary bump may not be enough. According to the Medscape National Burnout & Depression Report of 2018, here are the top three contributing factors:

 

  1. Too many bureaucratic tasks (paperwork) – 56%
  2. Spending too many hours at work – 39%
  3. Insufficient compensation – 24%

 

Student Loan Debt

 

Physicians illustrate a concern for financial wellness.

 

To pursue a career in medicine, most need student loans to finance their education. In turn, seventy-five percent of medical school graduates begin practice with debt. What’s worse is that the average medical school grad carries $192,000 in debt. It’s no surprise that the burden to pay off these loans can cause extreme financial strain for young physicians. And although many overcome to lead successful careers, some never fully recover.

 

According to the Medscape Physician Wealth and Debt Report of 2018, most school loans are paid off by age 50. Thirty-two percent of physicians surveyed were still paying down their own student loan debt from medical school.

 

With so many physicians paying down student loan debt, it’s no wonder their financial outlook is unique. More money for student loan payments means less money for lifestyle spending and retirement planning. This financial stress extends beyond large monthly payments, too. It also impacts their experience as first-time homebuyers.

 

In addition to the long hours physicians typically work, they now have little money to add to their budgets. In fact, 24% of physicians in the Medscape survey said that insufficient compensation contributed to their burnout. And when asked what could be done to reduce burnout, 35% said: “increase compensation to avoid financial stress.”

 

In a large healthcare system, it can be tough to stand out. Most CFOs are not closely involved with physicians. This lack of engagement means physicians are less likely to get the financial resources they need. Most raises and bonuses in large healthcare systems come at a preset rate or a generic structure. As a physician, refinancing student loans can offer significant cost savings.

 

Depending on the repayment plan, this is possible both:

 

  • Over the life of the loan.
  • On a monthly basis.

 

Large health systems should consider offering student loan debt assistance to physicians and other employees.

 

Key takeaways

 

Like student loan debt, physician burnout is a crisis affecting the healthcare industry today. Based on our research, the former is actually fueling the latter. But that’s not the only culprit. Other leading causes include:

 

  • Less meaningful relationships.
  • A decline in patient loyalty.
  • Profits over work-life balance.

 

The healthcare industry is subject to constant change. Although advancements in medicine are needed, they should not overshadow those who provide care. Prioritizing the personal and financial well-being of physicians is the first step to overcoming the burnout crisis.

 

9 Signs it’s Time to Refinance Student Loan Debt

 

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woman asking employer for student loan assistance
2020-08-05
How to Ask Your Employer to Help Pay Student Debt

These days, employers offer all kinds of benefits to keep employees, from kombucha on tap and innovative new office spaces to ping pong tables and video game rooms. The list of benefits seems to grow all the time.   When you think about it, though, how much do you really need that kombucha on tap? Instead, what many graduates need is help with their ever-mounting student loans. In combination with other methods of dealing with student loan debt, employers can play a valuable role in ensuring their employees’ financial stability.   Employers are beginning to recognize this trend, as well. That’s why some have begun to offer help to employees with student loan debt. While an uncommon practice at the moment, some companies now offer options to help employees pay back their student loans.   The practice is rapidly becoming more popular, and if you’re lucky, your employer may already offer a student debt relief program. Here are several ways employers are already helping to reduce their employees' student loan debt.  

Financial Education

Employers have begun to understand that their own financial success is tied to the financial success of their employees. As a result, some employers have begun to offer financial education opportunities.   These opportunities come in many forms, including workshops, webinars and even counseling. While many employees already have a firm grasp on financial concepts, these programs can still be incredibly beneficial to those weighed down by student debt as they often cover lesser-known tactics and reinforce familiar strategies.  

Student Loan Repayment Signing Bonuses

Another method of helping employees with student debt is the signing bonus. For example, some companies offer $1,000 towards student loans for new hires. This $1000 can drastically reduce the amount graduates pay in interest over the life of their student loans and is an effective way for companies to hire and keep dedicated, hardworking employees.  

Employer Repayment

The most exciting benefit employers are beginning to adopt is direct assistance with student loans. Now, in addition to savvy fiscal advice, some companies are backing up their support with dollars and cents.   A few companies now offer yearly bonuses to help pay back student loans. One of the most generous of these companies is Nvidia. Employees earn $6,000 a year towards their student loans up to a $30,000 maximum. Several companies offer comparable or lower amounts. Regardless of the repayment amounts, this innovative strategy provides a new way to fight back against student debt.   A variation of this policy is occasionally used, as well. In this variation, employees who don’t take their PTO can trade their PTO days for student loan assistance. With many in the United States not taking their PTO days anyway, this is a compelling option for student loan borrowers.  

Contributions to 401(k) Plans

It may seem strange for 401(k) contributions to go hand-in-hand with paying off student debt. You might even expect to have to choose between them.   If you’re employed by Abbott Laboratories, though, you don’t have to choose. Employees who contribute at least 2% of their pay toward student loans are eligible for the full 5% employer matching in their 401(k), even if they do not otherwise contribute to their 401(k). Abbott Laboratories is the first company to offer this incentive to help employees to pay off student debt, and hopefully many companies will follow in their footsteps.   Sadly, these types of programs are not as commonly offered as they should be, but that isn’t necessarily bad news for you.   If student loan assistance programs are something that you would like to see at your company, then make an appointment to speak with either your boss or to human resources. In this day and age, the competition for the best employees is fierce, and employers are always looking for ways to keep employees happy. In some cases, it may even be cheaper than a raise.   It’s also worth mentioning your interest in such programs while negotiating your salary and benefits package for a new job. They may include it as an additional benefit.   If your employer already provides these benefits, that’s fantastic! You’re already one step closer to being unburdened by student debt. If you're curious about how to finish the job and free yourself from student debt completely, one great way to do that is Student Loan Refinancing. You can learn more here.  
  Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.
Colleagues touching elbows as they return to the office following the COVID-19 pandemic.
2020-06-18
Tips for Adjusting Back to Office Life

After months of remote work, workplaces are finally opening up again. To some this is exciting. At last, one can interact with their coworkers and work in a more traditional environment. Some might feel the opposite. Regardless, the switch back to the office environment will take some adjustments in your daily routine. To help you make that switch seamlessly, we’ve made this list of 6 tips that will ensure that you have no issues on your way back into the office.  

Prepare Mentally

After all the time of just being able to roll out of bed and get to work, it may seem like a drag to get ready each day to go back to the workplace. You should prepare yourself mentally to not only wake up earlier and get dressed for work but also prepare for the many things that come along with being in the office. It’s important to note 
studies show that communication is vitally important to productivity, and despite the boom in work from home technology, nothing beats face to face communication, even if it’s from six feet apart. A conversation through a screen just isn’t the same. So if you’re dreading returning to work, focus instead on the benefit of returning – a better teamwork experience.  

Stick To What Routines You Can

Without a doubt, the switch back to office work will dramatically change your routine. As such, it is even more important to stick to the things that you can. Studies show that routines are essential to sound mental health. If you have a cup of tea at 10:30 every morning, continuing to do that will bring a sense of much-needed consistency to your routine. Similarly, if you have begun to start your day with a half-hour of industry news, continue doing that. Even the smallest pieces of your routine play large roles in keeping you feeling stable and will help you in the transition back to office life.  

Plan Out Your House Work

It’s easy to forget the days where you couldn’t just crush a load of laundry or do the dishes in between conference calls, but those days are back. It’s going to be harder to get all those household chores done. In order to get back on the metaphorical chore wagon, it may be worth setting up a plan to help you get what you need to be done around your home. Not only will it keep your home clean, but it could have health benefits  

Remember Your Commute

It’s easy to forget how your workdays used to be. That commute now seems so far in the past. Unfortunately, it and all the other elements of the workday are back. Commutes can add significantly to your day.  The average American commutes for 26.1 minutes one way. Over a five day work week, this is about four hours that you’ll be losing. As such, it is important to take into account the effect the commute will have on your day. Likely you will have to get up a little earlier than before, and it may be worthwhile to map out your commute before your return to the office. Your after-work time is also cut due to the commute, so post-work activities will subsequently have to be shortened. But don’t despair – a commute is a perfect time to learn something new with your favorite podcast or an audiobook.  

Stay Safe

Sadly, the COVID-19 epidemic is not over, and even though you’ve returned to work, it is still important to ensure not only your safety but the safety of your colleagues and customers. Your workplace has likely sent out a list of guidelines and instructions to help keep the workplace safe – follow these as closely as you can, as they are in place to help you. Many will require you to wear a mask. While masks are undoubtedly uncomfortable, they are an important piece in the COVID-19 prevention guidelines. Also, remember to wash your hands and use hand sanitizer. They may seem like small things, but they make the difference.  

Enjoy Yourself

After months in relative isolation, you’ll now be returning to the workplace. Now is the time to bask in the human contact you’ve so missed. Interact with your colleagues. Enjoy leaving the house. This is in many ways a return to the much-missed normalcy. Make the best of it.    While the return back to work certainly won't be easy, eventually you will become used to it as you were before. It is an essential part of returning to normalcy. But it isn’t the only path to choose – more and more companies seem to be allowing their companies to work from home following the pandemic. If you’re curious about the future of working from home, check out this article.  
  Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.
2020 graduate cap
2020-06-10
Tips for 2020 Graduates Entering the Job Market

While your last semester may have been online, you’ve graduated nonetheless, and you’re finally ready to head out into the world and face the job market. After graduating amidst a global pandemic, you may feel a bit uncertain about your job prospects coming out of college. The fact is you’re entering the job market at a somewhat inopportune time – job openings on Glassdoor have dropped 20.5% after all, and articles are published weekly on the status of the 2020 graduate. However, there’s no need to panic. We’re here to tell you that you’re more prepared than you think, and there are still jobs out there for you. But just in case you feel uncertain, we’ve compiled 5 tips to help you seamlessly enter the job market.  

Be Practical

It’s no secret that the economy is on somewhat shaky footing, making it a little more difficult than usual to get that perfect job. Obviously, that perfect job is the ideal, but now is the time to be practical and expand your job search. Look in areas that you may not have considered before or in fields other than your major. These may be lower-paying than you’d hope for, but the work experience is still valuable, and stepping out of your comfort zone won’t go unnoticed when pursuing future opportunities. Search on job sites like Indeed for entry-level jobs and work from there. Your college also likely has a career center that can help you find employment. Reach out to them to see what help they can offer. Many colleges have partnered with platforms like Handshake that serve to link students with employers.  

Acquire Skills

If you want to hold out for a job in your chosen field, that is not necessarily a bad thing. Now is the perfect time to acquire skills that your employers will find valuable and that will benefit you in the long run. You might take this time to practice job interviews to improve your interview skills. The more interviews you do, the more comfortable you will be during them. As such, never turn one down, even if you aren’t interested. It’s still worth gaining the experience. As for skills that will make you more appealing to prospective employers, sites like Linkedin Learning can help you brush up on things you know or help you pick up new skills. Online classes can also serve as a way to pass the time while acquiring new skills. While building new skills doesn’t bring in immediate income, these skills will serve to make you more valuable to a prospective employer and could improve your income in the future.  

Polish What Employers Will See

Employers see a wide variety of things when looking at a prospective candidate. The resume is perhaps one of the most important. Now is the time to perfect your resume. Add in any relevant work experience you may have forgotten to add. Do some research on what employers are looking for on a resume. This should be an ongoing process. Your resume should be constantly evolving as you acquire new skills and experiences. Likewise, this is the perfect time to get your social media profiles polished. Many employers use social media as a vetting tool for prospective employees. Remove any material that could hinder you from being hired, and, in particular, get your Linkedin profile as professional and complete as possible. Employers love Linkedin, and as more and more of the hiring process is moved online, it has become an invaluable tool for them to look at prospective hires. Thus, it is important for your Linkedin to be filled out and representative of you and your workplace skills  

Expand Your Circle

As important as your skills, networking is essential is you are in the job market. Particularly in these uncertain times, an effective network can mean the difference between being employed and not. Reach out to people in your field via Linkedin or other social media outlets. Ask questions and demonstrate your interest. You may be able to get an interview with them. Even if a job doesn’t come of it, your demonstrated interest will place you in the back of their minds as well as provide you with valuable interview experience. Similarly, interacting with people within your prospective field on any of your social media platforms is beneficial to you. Employers want to see that you are engaged within the wider community of the field. Also, be sure to attend virtual industry meetups and conventions. The importance of becoming involved cannot be understated.  

Persevere

It’s important to treat your job search as a job because, for a time, it is your job. Stay at it, and constantly be reaching out to prospective employers. It can be hard to stay motivated in the job search, but remember that this is necessary. Plan out your job search and keep track of the contacts you make. They could be useful later on. Make sure to take breaks when necessary. Like any job, the job search is tiring and can lead to burnout, so make sure that you rest between sending out those surges of applications. Eventually, you will make it.   Congratulations on graduating. Now for your next challenge. It would be a lie to claim this as a great time to enter the job market, and it is certainly an unfortunate time for you to graduate. The job search will be difficult, but by working hard and following these five tips, you could certainly still succeed. You can do it. If you’re looking for more post-graduation tips, we’ve got you covered. Check out this article on saving money after graduation.  
  Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.