Ease tension with patients to combat burnout


Difficult patient interactions are a major contributing factor behind hospitalist burnout, but clinicians should know there are options.

Faye Reiff-Pasarew, MD, director of the humanism in medicine program at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, and a presenter at the Tuesday education session “Challenging Patients, Challenging Stories: A Medical Humanities Approach to Provider Burnout,” says a broader perspective can help.

Dr. Faye Reiff-Pasarew of Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York

Dr. Faye Reiff-Pasarew

“We don’t spend a lot of time talking about what we can do in the moment to deal with these situations,” she said. “We need to help clinicians maintain their ability to continue to practice and provide excellent care.”

Dr. Reiff-Pasarew and her colleague Joshua Allen-Dicker, MD, MPH, FHM, of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, will explain how the intersection of humanities and medicine can help make treating challenging patients more manageable.

“The practice of medicine is enriched by having a broader perspective on what can be useful and drawing on the wisdom of other disciplines,” Dr. Reiff-Pasarew explained. “The biomedical model can be very narrow and does not always take into account the larger aspects of people’s humanity.”

Session leaders say attendees will learn tactics that they will be able to take with them and immediately implement in their own practice.

“Medical humanities is an interdisciplinary approach drawing from the arts and social sciences to broaden our understanding of health and illness outside of the purely biomedical model,” Dr. Reiff-Pasarew said. “We are going to use different examples, from narrative medicine or graphic medicine, to show clinicians how to be more emotionally connected and give them tools to develop empathy for their patient’s perspective, even when it may manifest in very challenging ways.”

The session will begin by outlining the issues of burnout in medicine, followed by strategies for clinicians to better handle patients during an interaction. The instructors will also explain how hospitalists can better manage their – and their patients’ –emotions that may arise during a patient encounter. Attendees will learn how they can keep their emotions in check and not be overly reactive, said Dr. Reiff-Pasarew.

Finally, hospitalists will learn how best to deal with any frustrations following a session with a difficult patient.

“There can be a lot of residual stress as a result of these experiences, and many do not have a great outlet,” said Dr. Reiff-Pasarew. “We are going to do some group brainstorming about coping mechanisms, focusing particularly on creative expression.”

Challenging Patients, Challenging Stories: A Medical Humanities Approach to Provider Burnout
Tuesday, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Grand Ballroom 4-6

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