September 21, 2017

Researching the Effect of Coaching on Mid-Career Physician Well-Being

The Physicians Foundation awarded a grant to the Mayo Clinic Randomized Control Trial: Effect of Coaching on Mid-Career Physician Well-Being, Job Satisfaction and Fulfillment to support research on whether individual professional coaching improves physicians' well-being and job satisfaction. Liselotte Dyrbye, MD, MHPE, Professor of Medicine and Medical Education, Mayo Clinic, shares how this study has partnered with the Physicians Foundation to assist physicians in finding professional fulfillment and reducing the risk of burnout.

Q. What is the primary purpose of the Randomized Control Trial?

The prevalence of physician burnout is alarmingly high. Those at the front lines of care and in mid-career are at greatest risk. Burnout has numerous adverse consequences on quality / safety, the patient-physician relationship and workforce supply. Mentorship has been proposed as a useful strategy to help physicians reduce burnout and increase meaning in work. This study will address whether individualized professional coaching as a form of mentorship for mid-career primary care physicians is beneficial in reducing burnout, improving job satisfaction and increasing professional fulfillment.

Q. Please explain the methodology behind the study.

Physicians who consent to participate will complete a survey that has validated instruments assessing various dimensions of well-being and job satisfaction prior to and following a series of professional coaching sessions.

Q. What qualifications must a participant meet?

Participants must be physicians working in the specialties of family medicine or general internal medicine and who are in mid-career.

Q. What do you hope to learn from the results?

We hope to learn if individualized professional coaching for mid-career family medicine and general internal medicine physicians improves physicians’ well-being and job satisfaction.

Q. How has the grant from the Physicians Foundation helped support the study?

In 2007, Mayo Clinic launched the Mayo Clinic Program on Physician Well-Being (PPWB), a multidisciplinary endeavor that draws on the expertise of members of the Departments of Medicine, Psychiatry and Psychology, as well as Mayo Clinic experts in the fields of occupational health and quality of life research. The program is dedicated to understanding and promoting physician well-being, providing resources for physicians that help them promote their own wellness, discovering approaches to prevent physician distress and creating a workplace that is a source not only of energy expenditure, but also energy renewal.

The Mayo Clinic PPWB has provided evidence-based strategies to reduce burnout and promote physician engagement. A new composite instrument developed through the program measures multiple dimensions of well-being, such as burnout, stress, work-life integration and meaning / purpose in work. It has been extensively validated, has national benchmarks for U.S. physicians and has been shown to predict relevant outcomes.

The mission of the Physician Foundation is to advance the work of practicing physicians and help facilitate the delivery of healthcare to patients. Core to this mission is helping physicians identify and maximize personal strengths and skills to handle work-related stressors, especially in this era of rapidly changing healthcare delivery models. The close alignment between our missions and goals results in a great partnership.

Support from the Physicians Foundation is critical to the success of this study. It ensures that we can develop innovative, evidence-based approaches to assist physicians in finding professional fulfillment and reducing the risk of burnout.