By Jonathan Springston, Editor, Relias-AHC Media

The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) this week unveiled a Well-being Planner for members to choose goals and measure progress regarding personal health and professional satisfaction. Additionally, the organization incorporated more than 100 resources into the National Academy of Medicine’s Clinician Well-Being Knowledge Hub, a repository of guidance for individuals and organizations wishing to combat burnout.

These developments are part of AAFP’s ongoing evolution of its Physician Health First Initiative, which launched in September 2017. "Family physicians experiencing burnout may feel overwhelmed," AAFP Senior Vice President for Education Clif Knight, MD, said in a statement. "The Well-being Planner is designed to make individual tactics more efficient to commit to, follow up, and track."

In the November 2017 issue of Integrative Medicine Alert, Ellen Feldman, MD, wrote an expansive article about physician burnout, including its effects and interventions to address the issue. (Editor's Note: This article later reached an even wider audience when it was reprinted in the January 2018 issue of Hospital Medicine Alert and the March 30, 2018, issue of Internal Medicine Alert, reiterating the importance of this issue.)

Feldman noted that between 2011 and 2014, burnout among practicing U.S. physicians increased from 45% to 54.4%. Common causes of burnout include a hectic pace, a chaotic environment, and the burden of inputting information into the electronic medical record. Feldman went on to analyze several published studies about the negative effects of physician burnout.

Potential solutions include making time for self-care (e.g., exercising, eating well) and working with healthcare administrators about implementing healthy work-life balance initiatives.

“Few of us imagined our lives as physicians would involve struggling with issues of burnout; most entering the profession expect a fulfilling professional career in concert with a satisfying family and social life,” Feldman concluded. “Yet the staggering reality of burnout growth in physicians tells us another story. Learning to guard against burnout can help all providers accept the importance of shaping a professional lifestyle that involves elements of moderation, self-reflection, and self-awareness.”