Practice Management

The work schedule that prevents burnout


 

Dr. John Nelson, cofounder and past president of SHM, and principal in Nelson Flores Hospital Medicine Consultants. He is codirector for SHM’s practice management courses.

Dr. John Nelson

Over time this can become a very significant stressor, contributing to burnout. There aren’t any simple solutions to staffing shortages, but avoiding short-staffed days should always be a top priority.

All hospitalist groups should ensure their schedule has day-shift providers work a meaningful series of shifts consecutively to support good patient-provider continuity. I think “continuity is king” and influences efficiency, quality of care, and provider burnout. Of course, there is tension between working many consecutive day shifts and still having a reasonable lifestyle; you’ll have to make up your own mind about the sweet spot between these to competing needs.

Schedule and number of shifts are only part of the burnout picture. The nature of hospitalist work, including EHR frustrations and distressing conversations regarding observation status, etc., probably has more significant influence on burnout and job satisfaction than does the work schedule itself.

But there is still lots of value in thinking carefully about your group’s work schedule and making adjustments where needed. The schedule is a lot easier to change than the nature of the work itself.

Dr. Nelson has had a career in clinical practice as a hospitalist starting in 1988. He is cofounder and past president of SHM, and principal in Nelson Flores Hospital Medicine Consultants. He is codirector for SHM’s practice management courses. Contact him at [email protected]

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