Interviews for Articles about Medical Careers
7 Reasons Rads Burn Out—And How to Cope
Let’s face it — the dream job doesn’t really exist. Even if you love your position and your institution, there are going to be times when you’re frustrated and tired or when you feel ineffectual. In essence, at some point, you’re going to feel burned out.
But, when that feeling becomes the norm, that’s when the real problems occur. And, according to the 2016 Medscape Physician Life Report, burnout is the reality for 50 percent of radiologists. As a result, job satisfaction falls, patient care suffers, and workflow management becomes inefficient.
Related article: Stop Burnout in Radiology Before It Starts
Consequently, many industry leaders say it’s vital to identify why burnout occurs and pinpoint some methods, both individually and institutionally, to counteract the effects or side-step it altogether. Ignoring the problem, they say, could have grave consequences.
“Burnout threatens our existence as a specialty,” says Peter Moskowitz, MD, executive director of the Center for Professional and Personal Renewal in Palo Alto, California. “There are increasing numbers of people leaving the field prematurely. And, at the same time, medical students are shrewd. They will see what’s going on in radiology and will look elsewhere for a career.”
What’s causing the fizzle?
Knowing what’s behind the loss of enthusiasm in radiology can be integral to fixing the problem. These are some of the most common factors at play.
1. Increased imaging volume
This problem is two-fold, says Moskowitz, clinical professor of radiology emeritus at Stanford University School of Medicine. Not only has imaging utilization crept up, but the number of images taken per study—particularly with cross-sectional studies—has ballooned, as well.
In fact, according to a recent article published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology, imaging workload has grown by 26% in the last 12 years. Unfortunately, the rise has outpaced practitioners’ abilities to keep up.
“Many MRI sequences and CT reconstructions are not necessary for diagnosis,” Moskowitz says. “We must find a way to reduce unnecessary images.”
2. PACS and electronic medical records
While these technologies carry several benefits, interoperability problems still exist. When systems don’t communicate fluidly, it can cause frustrations and decrease radiologist efficiency.
3. RVU focus
Overall, the industry puts too much emphasis on physician RVUs, Moskowitz says.
“Physician salaries and bonuses, status within groups, partnerships — all of these decisions are now made almost exclusively on physician productivity,” he says. “And, it’s killing people.”
4. Educational debt
Nearly 55% of new trainees report student debt weight contributes heavily to their work-related stress. Most graduates and trainees enter practice with between $150,000-$200,000 of debt, he says.
Related article: Why Radiologists Are Bad With Money
5. Generational differences
Frequently, work values between older and younger radiologists differ, Moskowitz says, causing anxiety.
“It’s not that one group is correct and the other is wrong,” he says. “Their values are simply different and it results in friction in the work environment.”
Radiologists Are Burning Out
Physicians Practice, September 11, 2017
So You Want to be a Part-Time Physician?
Career and financial support Whatever direction physicians take to work part-time hours, an employment change, whether temporary or permanent, can prompt concerns about career impact, finances, and even self-worth. To ease the transition, compiling a solid support team — from career coaches to financial planners to family and friends — can be helpful, experts say.
Career coaches can assist in identifying short- and long-term goals as well as potential employment pathways. Peter S. Moskowitz, a physician career and life coach and executive director of the Center for Professional & Personal Renewal, a consultancy for physician career transition and life coaching in Palo Alto, Calif., uses the four basic pillars of self-knowledge to ensure well-integrated career transitions for his clients. “A physician’s personality profile, unique transferable skills, career values, and personal sense of purpose [can] provide a stable platform from which physicians can scout new and appropriate careers,” he said.
When it comes to financial concerns, advanced planning is critical. With issues running the gamut from potential pay reductions and loss of benefits, to access to public service loan forgiveness programs that are based on full-time employment, forming a relationship with a trusted adviser even while still in medical school can lay the groundwork for future career transitions.
Radiologists Are Burning Out
Diagnostic Imaging, Practice Management, PACS and Informatics June 4, 2015Of all the factors that could be contributing to burnout among radiologists, the increase in work volume may be the overriding factor, according to Peter Moskowitz, MD, a clinical professor of radiology at Stanford University School of Medicine.
“It seems every year that the number of cases and the daily work volume seems to be getting greater at a time when there is pressure to increase individual work productivity,” said Moskowitz.
He says radiologists’ RVUs are being monitored to the point where some hospital administrators are using RVU output to determine salary and bonuses.
“There is tremendous pressure on radiologists to work more and do it faster and that stress is the major problem,” said Moskowitz.
Without interventions, he said it’s hard to see the situation improving.
An Even Keel
Di Journal of the American College of Radiology. NEWS Section. January 28, 2014. As imaging becomes increasingly complex, and the radiology work environment more stressful, it is more important than ever for radiologists to maintain their focus. Read what Physician Career Coach Dr. Peter Moskowitz has to say about keeping your focus, and your cool, at work.
How to Improve Your Attitude in 2014
Diagnostic Imaging Online Magazine. January 2, 2014. By Karen Childress
Being happy is a voluntary way of living, according to pediatric radiologist and physician career coach Peter Moskowitz. “Moment by moment, day by day, we make choices about how we live,” says Moskowitz. Research shows that about half of our happiness is hard-wired. About 40 percent is related to one-time events like getting a raise or buying a new car, but that kind of happiness is short-lived.” It’s the remaining 10 percent, says Moskowitz, that’s under an individual’s control. And that 10 percent makes all the difference. Read Moskowitz’s recommendations for physicians who are looking to improve their outlook on life and work.
Has PACS Ignited an Epidemic of Burnout?
Health Imaging Online Magazine. September 11, 2013. Today, more radiologists are succumbing too the plague of professional burnout with potentially dire effects on patients and practice. Error and malpractice rates are suspected to be higher for burned out physicians. “PACS, as well as the use of RVU’s as a performance evaluation measure for salary and bonuses fans the flames of burnout,” continues Moskowitz. Read what Moskowitz recommends for individual radiologists, as well as radiology groups and academic departments, to fix the problem.
Start Early: Avoiding Physician Burnout Begins in Medical School
Lead Doc. Am. College of Physician Executive’s Online Journal for Physician Leaders. March 21, 2013. By Jenny Laws. Peter Moskowitz has 14 years of experience as a life and career coach for physicians and is well versed on the topic of physician stress and burnout. He has seen a trend toward younger physicians and even medical students and residents looking for coaching to rethink career choices and establish better balance. Read about his advice to physicians in-training.
How Radiologists Can Find Balance and Avoid Burnout
Diagnostic Imaging Online Magazine. February 5, 2013. By Sarah Michael. Peter Moskowitz, MD, executive director for the Center for Professional and Personal Renewal and a practicing diagnostic radiologist, offers his suggestions for bringing balance to a stressful life, and the six domains of life balance.
Battling Burnout: Radiologists Seek Career Renewal
RSNA News. October-November, 2011. pp. 5-6. Although gauging the extent of professional burnout among radiologists is difficult, several prior studies have suggested an incidence as high as 40%. Read Dr. Moskowitz’s prescription for avoiding burnout and maintaining balance.
Ontario Medical Association Newsletter. March, 2011.
By Dorothy Pennachio. An informative discussion of physician burnout with prevention/treatment strategies.
Surviving the Malpractice Storm
PracticeLink. January, 2011. If you’re named in a malpractice suit, chances are you’ll go through every emotion, from denial to anger. But with these tips from physician career and life coach Dr. Peter Moskowitz, you can get through it-with both your sanity and your career still intact.
Balancing Your Life at Work and Home
Journal of Oncology Practice. September, 2009. Neglect of self-care, a compulsive drive to achieve, and the inability
To prioritize are all traits that put physicians at risk for work-life imbalance, burnout, depression, mood disorders and substance abuse. Physician coach Dr. Peter Moskowitz says that the inability to say no and to set limits is a very common problem among his physician clients. “Saying “no” without feeling guilty is understandably difficult for physicians, yet if they continue to say “yes” eventually they will not have time for anything. To be effective in work-life balance, you have to learn to set boundaries and priorities.”
Personal Growth Feeds Professional Development
Doctors Digest. Winter-Spring, 2008. pp. 6-17. By Karen Childress. Most clinicians would agree that it is important for them to keep up with the changes in medicine and science that impact their careers. But what about the other side of the equation? This well-written overview of career renewal includes comments from Dr. Peter Moskowitz about Going With The Flow, Aligning Work with Personal Values, The Art of Work-Life Balance, and Keeping Your Career On Track.
Personal and Professional Growth: Flextime Arrangements
Doctors Digest. November-December, 2007. pp. 73-77. By Karen Childress. So much for the 40-hour work week. Increasing numbers of physicians are electing to create more flexibility in their clinical practice, and working less, to permit more time for family, balance, fun, partial retirement, and even new entrepreneurial ventures. Take the advice of physician career coach Dr. Peter Moskowitz, and others, on how to pull it off.
Lonely Doctor’s Lounge
Medical Economics Magazine. February 3, 2006. Peter Moskowitz offers career and life coaching to physicians as executive director of the Center for Professional and Personal Renewal. This work gives him insights into how the empty doctors’ lounge –and fraying collegiality in general might be impacting medicine. “Isolation and loneliness puts doctors at greater risk of burnout,” says Moskowitz. “They become more irritable, more time-pressured, and less empathic with patients and co-workers. It’s easy to see how such doctors are more likely to be sued for malpractice.”
How Are You Feeling?
An Article on Physician Wellness, Southern California Physician. July, 2005. pp. 14-18. Have you stopped to gauge your personal health—mental and physical? If not, let this article on physician wellness serve as a reminder of the value in taking care of yourself, and how to do it.
Burnout: Are you at risk?
Medical Economics Magazine, May 6, 2005 By Dorothy Pennachio. Did you just yell at that patient? Slam that door? Step back–you may be on a slippery slope toward burnout. We can help.
Unhappy patients will leave their physicians
American Medical News, March 19, 2001 By Leigh Page. A study in the Journal of Family Practice reports that doctors say managed care pressures keep them from relating better with patients.
Lifestyle High prices, low salaries squeeze radiologists out of SF Bay Area
Diagnostic Imaging, February 2001 (requires registration) By Jane Lowers. For some exams, reimbursement rates are 30% to 70% of what their peers are paid elsewhere
Splitsville: Time to switch medical groups?
American Medical News, October 2, 2000 By Julie A. Jacob. Divorce from your practice isn’t easy. And a new partnership may not be much better. Here are some things to consider.
Physician stress: What can you do to avoid burnout?
ACOG Today (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists), September 1999. “Balancing your life is the most potent form of stress management there is,” advises Dr. Moskowitz. “It’s also a unique concept for doctors, most of whom wouldn’t have survived medical school if they had attempted to life a balanced life.”
Thinking the (previously) unthinkable: What if you get fired?
Medical Economics, September 7, 1998 By Dorren Mangan. As medicine goes corporate more and more doctors are being handed pink slips. Here’s how to cope if it happens to you.
What now, Coach?
American Medical News, January 5, 1998 By Maureen Glabman. As the rapidly changing health care system increases the stress level for many physicians, some doctors are turning to “career coaches” to help them work through their frustrations and sort out their options.
Finding Balance: If Not Now, When?
Hippocrates, January 1998 by Kathrine Kam. There’s no doubt that it’s hard for all busy professionals to balance their work with the rest of theri lives. But it’s especially challenging for doctors. Whether married practitioners with decades of experience or single residents fresh out of medical school, physicians are hard pressed to resolve the relentless demands of the profession with the desire for a rich personal life. Wherein Peter reveals his own dark days in the early ’90s that led him to make major changes in his work and home life and, eventually, to becoming a coach.
How to avoid the pit of radiology burnout
Diagnostic Imaging, October 1997 (requires registration) By Emily Hayes. Rather than seek help early, physicians tend to wait until problems snowball into a crisis. This condensed “day in the life” of a stressed-out radiologist is a composite picture based on interviews with psychologists and career development specialists who work with radiologists and other physicians.
Physician burnout: stemming the epidemic among us
California Physician, September 1997 By Megan Olden. How close are you to burnout? Learn how to control stress before stress controls you Family Practice Management, April 1997 By Janine Latus Musick