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Burnout — how to spot it and take action

Podcast hosts chat with Dr. Susan Reynolds on stress management, avoiding burnout, and tips to maintain your physical and mental wellness.
Small Talks, Big GI Topics
Small Talks, Big GI Topics

In this special GI Forging Forward edition of the AGA podcast Small Talk, Big Topics, hosts Matthew Witson and Nina Nandy have a conversation with Susan Reynolds, MD, PhD, an emergency physician, medical center CEO, Chief of Staff Boot Camp® program director and author. Dr. Reynolds is also heavily involved with AGA, and beyond medical leadership, her career focuses on wellness and burnout among medical practitioners. This conversation complements the previous episode on resiliency featuring Laurie Keefer, and addresses the topics of wellness and burnout. Matthew and Nina are excited to discuss what these terms mean, how to identify burnout, resources to foster wellness, and action steps to take care of oneself.

Dr. Reynolds shares how she became involved with both AGA and work in the area of wellness and burnout. After facing a number of staff suicides at a hospital where she formerly worked, Dr. Reynolds saw the need for a greater support system for medical practitioners — a system geared toward holistic wellness. This wellness moves beyond diet and exercise to concerns related to mental health, such as work-life balance and practices that foster resilience. The flip side of wellness is burnout, which Dr. Reynolds defines in terms of the Maslach Burnout Inventory (another helpful tool available is the AMA’s STEPS analysis). Burnout tends to be marked by new behaviors such as lateness, rudeness or poor work performance, and can be expressed in de-stressing behaviors, which for some include drug and/or alcohol abuse.

The medical field is stressful — even more so in light of COVID-19. So, Dr. Reynolds offers a toolkit for listeners who may notice warning signs of burnout among colleagues or trainees, or even in themselves. She explains how to approach talking about concerns, advice to give for things like meditation and even consultation with a psychologist (not a psychiatrist!), and the need for intentional talking and listening. People need connectivity, and also benefit from practices like mindfulness that mitigate burnout. Before the conversation ends, Dr. Reynolds also uses the Yerkes-Dodson curve and the Holmes-Rahe scale to comment on the role of stress, and advises two categories of listeners: those interested in her line of work (for whom she mentions the valuable connection of Dr. Karen Miotto), and those just entering their careers.

GI Forging Forward is AGA’s practical educational training program covering timely topics for GIs through the lens of COVID-19. GI Forging Forward is supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health (award number R25DK118761). View available symposia in AGA University.

Follow Susan and her company, the Institute for Medical Leadership, on Twitter.
Contact Susan at [email protected] and learn about her organization.
Follow Matthew on Twitter.
Follow Nina on Twitter.
Follow CS on Twitter.
Follow AGA on Twitter.
Email at [email protected].

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