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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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2020-10-23
Ace Your Interview: Job Interview Tips

Life after graduation is full of responsibilities, like taxes, groceries and full-time jobs, but also full of opportunities. To capture these opportunities, you need to be prepared, and the best way to do that is to make sure you give the best job interviews possible. Here are a few job interview tips to help:  

Write a Top-Notch Resume

First step: get your
resume into shape. Make sure you fill it with your valuable work experience and qualifications. Your goal is to showcase the most successful and productive version of yourself possible.   Volunteer work, certifications, awards, and other accomplishments can all have a place on your resume. Many people like to build from resume templates you can find online, but if you use a resume template, just be sure you’ve thoroughly checked the verbiage to make sure it doesn’t sound scripted.   Your resume should show off your unique talents and skill set, as well as any numbers or figures that back up your work.  

Do the Research

One of the most important job interview tips is doing research beforehand. You want to be knowledgeable about both the job and the employer when you are being interviewed. Look at the company website to learn about company history, accomplishments, and other information. Also, take some time to read recent news about the company.   When you know what the company is looking for, you’ll be able to easily answer questions about how you will fit into the work environment.  

Know the Common Questions

Many interviewers ask the same, basic questions to better understand their candidates. While some may ask curveball questions, as well, you’ll be a step ahead if you come prepared with answers to common questions.   Examples include “Tell me about yourself” and “What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?” Even though these sound like very basic questions, it’s important to give a thoughtful answer. Take your time thinking through responses prior to the interview. Indeed has a fantastic list of 125 such questions to ensure you are never at a loss for words.   Don’t stress about knowing all the answers; just practice the ones you think are most important. Then, if they ask you something unexpected, you’ll have a few ideas to pull from.  

Practice

Once your research is done, it’s time to practice. Ask a friend, parent, sibling or roommate to run through interview questions with you. Focus on answering smoothly and confidently.   In a similar vein, treat any job interview you go to as practice. If you don’t get the job, you’ve still gained valuable interview experience.  

Ask Questions

One job interview tip some people don't think about is to prepare your own questions.   A job interview isn’t just an opportunity for a prospective employer to learn about you. It’s also a chance for you to learn about them. Ask questions you really want answers to, not just questions you think will impress the interviewer. Honest questions demonstrate interest and can help you decide whether you’d like to work for the company.   Ideally, you should prepare your questions in advance. That way, you’ll be ready when the interviewer asks, “Do you have any questions for me?” If you’re at a loss for words, questions about corporate culture and growth opportunities are always good options.  

Dress the Part

When dressing for a job interview, you should think about the first impression you’d like to make on your potential employer. If you aren’t sure about an outfit, err on the side of caution. It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed. When in doubt, it’s hard to go wrong with simple, business-professional clothing.   Of course, this is by no means an all-purpose interview cheat code. Different employers will expect their employees to wear different things. An interview at a bank will require far more formal dress than an interview at quick-service restaurant.   Again, though, err on the side of caution. You likely won’t be passed over for a job because you were too well dressed. To top it all off, research has shown that dressing up can significantly boost your confidence.  

Follow Up

After the interview, consider sending a thank-you email to the hiring manager. Express your gratitude for the interview and impress upon them your interest in the position. Be enthusiastic. You’ve got one more chance to make a positive impression.   If you get the job, congratulations. That’s fantastic. If you don’t, don’t stress. You’ve done the best you could do, and you’ve gained valuable interview experience to boot. Sometimes it takes time to find the perfect job. With your interview experience, you’ll be all the more likely to get it. If you’re looking for a job in the medical field, check out this article on common resume mistakes for medical professionals.  
  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.
Employer student loan repayment benefits keep employees happy
2020-10-13
How to Help Your Employees Pay Off Student Loans

Traditionally, employer benefit programs are focused on two things: investing and healthcare. Keeping your employees healthy and financially secure helps decrease turnover and increase productivity.   But when employees are buried in student debt, investing in retirement feels fruitless. Before they can focus heavily on planning for the future, they need to decrease their current student loan balances.   As an employer, you have the power to make a significant difference in your employees’ debt repayment timeline. Here are a few ways to do just that - and why helping your employees become debt-free is a smart business decision.  

How Student Loan Benefits Work

Currently, employers offer a variety of student loan repayment assistance methods. These include:  

Educational Support

The least expensive method is offering financial education to employees. This would typically involve hiring an outside expert to offer group meetings or one-on-one coaching. These can be done in-person or online.   These sessions can be helpful, especially if done repeatedly throughout the year. They may be offered on their own or in conjunction with direct monetary support.  

Sign-up Bonus

Some employers pay a lump-sum toward an employee’s student loan balance when they join the company. This is a one-time benefit used to attract new employees, but it can also be seen as unfair to existing employees who never received a sign-up bonus.  

Matching 401(k) Contributions

Many companies offer matching contributions to an employee’s 401(k) account. In these cases, the individual contributes their own money and the employer matches a certain amount.   One way that companies are combining student loan and 401(k) benefits is by matching student loan payments with a 401(k) contribution.   Here’s how it works. The employee makes a student loan payment, and the money comes directly out of their paycheck. In exchange, the employer contributes that same amount to their 401(k) account. This allows the employee to balance student loan repayment with saving for retirement.  

Matching Student Loan Contributions

Employers may also offer a dollar-for-dollar matching payment to the employees’ student loans. If the borrower pays $200 to their student loans, the employer adds an additional $200. This is the most straightforward way to help your employees become debt-free.   Most companies that offer a matching student loan payment option will have an annual and lifetime limit. For example, the office chain Staples pays $100 a month for three years for eligible employees. Insurance company Aetna pays up to $2,000 a year for full-time employees, up to $10,000 total. Part-time employees receive up to $1,000 a year, up to $5,000 total.   Like 401(k) contributions, some companies require employees to work for a certain number of months before they become eligible for student loan repayment benefits.   As part of the CARES Act passed in March 2020, any student loan repayment benefits, up to $5,250, made by an employer between March 27, 2020 and December 31, 2020 will not count as taxable income. Unless this provision is extended, student loan repayment benefits will then be taxed after that date.  

How Student Loan Repayment Benefits Employers and Employees

The total US student loan balance grows at a rate of about 7% every year. In 2019, the average graduate had $35,397 in student loans. New hires often bring mountains of student loan debt with them, and student loan repayment benefits can make a huge difference.  

Decreasing Student Loan Stress

A recent study found that more than 85% of individuals with student loan debt name it as a major source of stress, and 33% call it out as one of their top three stressors. A 2019 survey from Marketplace-Edison Research found that those with student loans had two-thirds more economic anxiety than those without student loans.   “When I was paying off student loans I was very anxious and stressed,” said Melanie Lockert, host of “The Mental Health and Wealth” show. “I don't think it affected my productivity per se, but it affected my quality of life and how I felt while doing the work. Of course, those feelings can indirectly affect work as well.”   Employers reap the rewards when workers have less financial stress. According to a study from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP), about 60% of employers said they noticed workers found it hard to focus because of personal financial problems. Another 34% of employers said they noticed absenteeism and tardiness also related to financial stress.   This isn’t a new revelation - it’s basic psychology. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs states that humans need to feel physically safe before they can improve their psychological well-being. The same is true with financial stress. If your employee is worried about defaulting on their student loans, they may be too preoccupied to concentrate on work, and too emotionally drained to come up with innovative ideas or brainstorm new solutions.  

Increasing Focus and Employee Retention

When employees feel financially secure, they’ll be more productive and attentive while on the clock. Even if it seems like your employees are producing decent results, they could likely accomplish even more if their attention wasn’t split between work and their student debt balance.   Student loan repayment assistance programs could also improve employee retention. 41% of surveyed companies offering student loan assistance have found it improves recruitment and 38% believe it has improved employee retention rates.   The data backs up those responses. Healthcare company Trilogy offers $100 a month in student loan repayment assistance to both full-time and part-time employees. Employees who utilize this program stay at the company 2.5 times longer than those who don’t.   Since it costs several thousand or even tens of thousands of dollars to train a new employee, it may actually be less expensive to pay their student loans. That’s not even considering the intangible benefits that come from having a roster of experienced, loyal employees.  

Offer Employer Student Loan Repayment with ELFI for Business

If your company is interested in adding student loan repayment assistance as a workplace benefit, they can join ELFI for Business. ELFI will create a student loan repayment program designed for your employees, managing the actual payments so your accounting department doesn’t get bogged down with the details.  
  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.  
Avoid common medical resume mistakes for interview success
2020-10-12
Common Resume Mistakes for Medical Professionals

If you search for “medical resume template” online, you’ll find thousands of options, all very different. Which choice, though, will give you the best chance of earning your dream job? Keep these common resume mistakes for medical professionals in mind when you’re putting together your application, and you’ll already be a step ahead of many other candidates.  

Write Your Resume for the Job You Want

Too many medical professionals make the resume mistake of assuming all jobs are looking for the same thing. This is, in fact, a huge logical fallacy, because although two jobs may be in the same industry,
it doesn’t mean they’re looking for the same candidate. One danger of using an online medical resume template is winding up with a resume that's a little too generic. Pay attention to make sure the format you're using really highlights your medical skills.   For example, if you’re interested in becoming a physician at a hospital, you’ll want to show you’re comfortable with a variety of medical tasks, especially within a hospital setting. You’ll need to prove leadership experience, discipline, problem-solving skills and strong time-management capabilities. In a hospital environment, it’s important to be familiar with your tasks, but also to be prepared to pivot when the situation calls for it.   On the other hand, if you’re applying to become a podiatrist at a group medical practice, your day will likely be more specialized and structured. You’ll need to show experience in the field of podiatry, as well as the ability to provide exceptional patient care. Any hiring manager or supervisor will want to know you’re detail-oriented and that you can clearly explain to patients how to maintain at-home care and general wellness practices.   Some jobs even use an applicant tracking system to screen applications for specific keywords. Do some research before submitting your resume to a potential employer to make sure your resume is optimized. If the hiring manager is looking for keywords like “patient care” or “medical records,” you won’t want to miss these important bullet points.  

Talk About Your Experience, Not Your Goals

Another common resume mistake for medical professionals is focusing on goals and objectives versus real-world experiences. You'll want to be sure you're formatting your medical resume to showcase your hard-earned experience.   In some professions, employers may be looking for someone trainable that can learn most of their job skills on-the-go. In the medical field, however, employers need the opposite. Because you’ll be providing healthcare to patients, knowing your field is far more important than having the ability to learn new skills from scratch.   Most jobs do require learning as you go, however, medical professionals are expected to bring some level of experience with them, even to entry-level positions. After all, you’ve put years of time and effort into earning a high-level degree, so you’ve likely graduated with a significant amount of knowledge. Unlike other professionals who learn many of their job skills after graduation, medical professionals graduate with the knowledge necessary to hit the ground running. Employers need candidates whose experience prepares them to do just that.  

Share Quantifiable Evidence of Success

If you received an award, increased productivity by 10% or worked with 250 trauma cases during your residency, list those numbers on your resume. One common resume mistake for medical professionals is listing vague experiences without backing them up with quantifiable information. Be sure the way you present your experience highlights your medical skills and shows the impact of your work. Here’s an example of how to share your experience, as well as an example of how not to share:  

How Not to Describe Your Medical Experience

“Spoke with several patients about their ongoing medical needs” doesn’t work, because it isn’t specific or quantifiable. Did you speak with five patients or 50? What did you discuss about their ongoing medical needs? While this likely describes months of hard work, without details, the hiring manager may miss what you’re trying to say.  

How to Describe Your Medical Experience

“Conducted medical interviews with 34 new patients, with a 96% patient retention rate” is much more specific. It explains that you spoke with an impressive number of new patients, collecting details about their medical histories and ongoing needs. As a general practitioner, retaining this many patients is a huge win, as most patients stay with the same doctor for a long time.  

Grammatical Mistakes: Missing the Forest for the Trees

Sometimes, when you’re so focused on getting the tiny details of your medical resume right, it’s easy to miss larger mistakes like spelling errors. Even if the information in your resume is fantastic, a misspelled word negates all your hard work.   Several employers will immediately toss resumes with grammatical errors, so be sure to proofread. For good measure, ask a friend or family member to look it over, as well.  

The Bottom Line

Applying for jobs is hard work. If you can avoid these common resume mistakes many medical professionals make, however, you’ll stand out as a stronger candidate. Putting in extra time and effort on your resume will pay off when you receive follow-up calls for fantastic jobs. It will also differentiate you from other candidates, as well as from those using medical resume templates. After crafting the perfect resume, be sure to check out our tips for graduates entering the job market, as well.  
  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.