Tag Archives: team

Addressing Employee Burnout

The environment that health care providers work in is full of stressors, especially if you work in the big-city hustle. Working through packed schedules, at a demanding pace, under pressure is not easy on anyone involved. Add to that an inherent high level of emotional intensity, and you can imagine how providers’ fuses get shorter and shorter over time. The result of all this can often be employee burnout.

Clinicians are burning out at increasing rates. Some studies estimate that the burnout rate for clinicians is now over 50%. “Burnout is a long-term stress reaction marked by emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and lack of sense of personal accomplishment,” according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Addressing physician burnout begins with utilizing creative ways to build a strong team culture in the workplace. In their module on creating team culture, AMA Steps Forward defines ‘Culture’ as “the underlying set of rules and beliefs that determine how everyone in your practice interacts with each other and with patients.”

After you secure you medical office lease in Los Angeles, it’s time to focus on culture. Building strong team culture relates directly to cultivating strong relationships in your practice.

10 Steps to Build Team Culture at Your Medical Practice

1. Diagnosis Before Treatment

Just like you do with your patients, you must first diagnose the state of your office culture before you attempt an intervention.

Anonymous staff surveys are a great way to determine how your staff is feeling about working with your practice. Some good ones to consider include:

2. Hold a Staff Brainstorming Session

Share the survey results in a common area for all employees to consider. Then, set the date for a staff-wide brainstorming session where everyone’s ideas for improvement will be valued. Be considerate of using a combination of approaches, as many people may come up with pieces of great ideas.

3. Write a List of Positive Behaviors

As a group, write a list of commonly agreed upon, positive behaviors that your staff will seek to uphold. The staff agrees to hold each other accountable to these attitudes and actions every day. “This is also an opportunity to reinforce positive behaviors to create an upbeat environment.”

4. Increase Team Communication Opportunities

Teams that have more personal communication perform much better than other teams. For example, rather than just “packing up and heading home” at the end of the day, why not hold a team debrief to go over the good work that happened that day or draw attention to new issues? Other ways to increase employee face-time include:

  • Co-location—seating team members near each other
  • Morning huddles—informal five-to-ten-minute meetings that get the team “on the same page” about clinic workflow for the day.
  • Warm handoffs— making it clear to the patient that their doctor and any other professional in the room are working together on the patient’s behalf. Examples are:

o “A physician introducing the patient to the behavioral health specialist in person and giving a brief synopsis of the patient’s case”
o “The nurse brings the physician into the room and explains to the physician in front of the patient what she has learned about the patient during rooming.”

5. Meet on a Regular Basis

Regular staff meeting improve relationships and productivity, both of which make big differences in your office culture.

6. Offer Professional Development

Give everyone on your staff opportunities to:

  • Take enrichment and advancement classes
  • Get a degree
  • Take on new role in the practice

7. Really Get to Know Each Other

  • Find reasons to celebrate together
  • Host potlucks or take turns cooking for the practice
  • Eat lunch with your co-workers—including people who work “above” and “below” you
  • If you have a medical office lease in Los Angeles with other groups or practices, invite them over for a lunch to build new relationships.

8. Train “Mentors,” not “Managers”

Your team leaders have a huge role to play in setting the tone for your overall practice. “Successful team cultures promote leadership that emphasizes teaching and mentoring over traditional management structures.” To this end, always remember to:

  • Demonstrate humility and show interest in all team members. Everyone has something contribute and there is always something to learn.
  • Strive to teach, coach, and guide with patience and clarity.
  • Teach your staff to give positive, actionable feedback

9. Keep Your Eye on the Ball

Successful practices are always looking for ways to improve. A strong team culture will enable your practice to stay “nimble” in our fast-changing scientific and social environment.

10. Engage with your Patients

Physicians are often so tied to their work that they forget (or don’t know how) to engage with patients on a personal level. Make effective communication a functional part of your office culture by:

  • Creating a one-to-three-question survey that you will administer at checkout. Ask specific questions about areas that your particular practice is trying to address.
  • Decide on who the “right” patients are from your practice and ask them to form a Patient Advisory Council.

o Meetings can be held at whatever frequency works best for you and your members.
o Members can be treated to a nice dinner during meetings, or you can give them gift cards or another token of your appreciation to say thank you.

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