PSQH: The Podcast – Episode 54: Preventing Burnout Through a Strong Practice Culture

On episode 54 of PSQH: The Podcast, Jay Kumar chats with special guest Dr. Natasha Beauvais about how cultivating a strong practice culture can prevent clinician burnout. Dr. Beauvais explores the importance of building trust between healthcare workers and facilitating open, honest conversations. She also delves into the immunity to change framework that has become so fundamental to her organizational leadership, allowing her to create space for growth across the entire organization.

Event Highlights:

  • “Burnout is a huge problem. It’s a crisis big enough to really shut healthcare down—not just physician burnout, but nursing burnout, healthcare provider burnout, administrator burnout.”
  • “Everyone is in healthcare because they really care about people and they want to help on an individual level. So I think one thing that leads to burnout is just the fact that there’s always something more to do, and it’s very hard to set a clear delineation. Like, when is it good to stop? Because if I stop, I’m not helping somebody.”
  • “Organizations are largely focused on getting things done, and that’s really good in the short term because there are so many patients who need care. But, it’s not good in the long term, because if our organizations are not caring for our people, then those people no longer want to be in those organizations.”
  • “A strong practice culture starts with the most basic of kind of human interaction fundamentals. We are all looking to be understood and to be seen in our work.”
  • “We need to be able to risk having challenging conversations with one another. If we’re so busy that we don’t have time to talk to each other, or we don’t cultivate the skills to really speak honestly with one another—including holding opposite opinions on the table at the same time—then we don’t really have a chance to create the kind of gel that is going to undergird a system that has to support a lot of other people.”
  • “If we just focus on being busy and getting the work done, it doesn’t help keep the gel of the organization running together. It doesn’t function as a unit that can really come together to help people feel cared for, and if people don’t feel cared for—even if they’re getting technically care—their outcomes are not as good. We have to really come together as an organization in a way that supports compassion.”
  • “The immunity to change framework has begun to do two things. Number one, it really helps us create a flatter organization, because we can recognize the humanness in each other. We trust each other. Number two, instead of being an organization of doers where we’re just all constantly trying to check off all the boxes, we have begun to take on the development of others.”
  • “Something that is not always done well in healthcare is working on these really slow-to-build skills within our own selves and our own staff. So not just me working on my staff, but me working on myself, and everyone working on themselves. And I feel like if healthcare did that, our sense of empowerment on an individual level would be so much greater that the whole organization could rise to a new level of capacity.”
  • “Structured support starts with creating an environment where people learn to be honest with each other. Because support starts with just — What am I struggling with? And if everyone is too ashamed to even admit that they’re struggling with anything, then it’s very hard to implement something that can be supportive.”
  • “Just sitting around and loving each other doesn’t quite work if people are not really learning how to take risks in communication and being willing to say what’s impacting them, what doesn’t work in their work environment, or what they’re carrying from home. Maybe they can’t quite process anything at work today because the burden they’re carrying from home is too huge.”
  • “I think that the pandemic highlighted for many people how much we’re carrying at home, but I doubt that the pandemic itself changed the level of complexity so drastically. I think that what’s really changed for us is our willingness to realize what people are carrying. Being able to recognize that and let other people just know what’s going on at home changes our ability to be present at work.”
  • “There’s quite a lot of trauma that we’re exposed to in everyday work in the medical field. The inability to process all of that, and the absence of the kind of concomitant attention to that in residency training, leaves us feeling like that’s really normal, or we shouldn’t need to go deeper. We need more honest conversations and better ways of understanding what each other is going through—not just doctor to doctor, but everyone in healthcare, from the security person to the person who answers the phone to the person who’s handling the bills.”
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