How Healthcare Leaders Can Improve Workforce Morale, According to Karyn Condie, MD

Dr. Karyn J. CondieWhen the pandemic took hold in early 2020, there was a lot of uncertainty and unknowns. Caring for patients with COVID-19 was new and evolving. Research into preventive measures such as vaccines became a priority. Frontline physicians were treating patients in this general uncertainty as well as continuing with their “normal everyday” workload. For many, this meant attending empaneled patients and their needs while assisting with COVID-19 efforts. This was time consuming and stressful.

COVID-19 has impacted schools, work, businesses, and families. So, while physicians have been busy in the field, their homelife has been disrupted due to COVID-19. The inability for frontline physicians to be present for kids and family due to duties in the field is a heavy burden and makes it very difficult to maintain focus. Physician burnout presents in a number of ways. Excessive stress about family, finances, and restrictions, the inability to attend needed training sessions, and worry about becoming sick are only a few of many symptoms.

It doesn’t help that physicians are probably harder on themselves than they need to be. Thinking that “this is your job,” “you should be able to handle this,” and “people are depending on me” are some of the sentiments expressed by physicians during the pandemic. Excessive worry about schedules and work/life balance during the pandemic was another huge factor in decreased morale among physicians.

Low morale can lead to costly workforce turnover and poor patient care. Already, many physicians have left the direct patient care arena to practice telemedicine or seek administrative positions. It’s no surprise that the pandemic increased telemedicine and virtual appointments. This new medical paradigm has allowed physicians to remain at home with their families and have a more controlled, scheduled patient environment. While this has increased access to physicians via virtual care, it has also decreased the number of experienced providers in the field.

Healthcare leaders need to be aware of the issues, both personal and professional, that affect their physician staff. Including clinical physicians in decision-making processes, such as scheduling, will help to remove communication barriers and ensure that the workplace remains inclusive and attentive to staff and patients alike. Allowing physician input in the day-to-day clinic functions will improve the workday experience. In effect, patient care needs to be in the hands of the patients and their physicians, with support and assistance from administrators.

As healthcare leaders, we must stay educated and knowledgeable about the latest treatment protocols. We must also practice what we know to be safe and effective preventive measures. Finally, we need to take care of each other. Many physicians compartmentalize and do not discuss or address situations or issues that may be impacting our personal lives and professional practice. It is essential, especially during this pandemic, to be aware and empathetic, and remain supportive of our colleagues.

Dr. Karyn Condie currently serves on the governing board of the American Board of Administrative Medicine, a Member Board of the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS). She is a board-certified physician in administrative medicine and disaster medicine by the ABPS.

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June 10-15, 2022
Patient Care Is Our Priority

Medical organizations throughout North America understand that our rigorous certification standards prove that ABPS Diplomates are capable of delivering the best patient care possible.

On October 18, 2007, President George W. Bush released Homeland Security Presidential Directive 21 (HSPD-21), calling on our nation, among other initiatives, to “collectively support and facilitate the establishment of a discipline of disaster health”. It is a great testament to the wisdom and foresight of the American Board of Physician Specialties that it immediately set to work and created, within the short span of only one year, an educational blueprint and set of certification examinations, both written and oral, for a new subspecialty of disaster medicine—and it is why I chose to be part this vital initiative and this wonderful organization. This is but one of the many innovative programs initiated by the American Board of Physician Specialties over the years, and why I am proud to support its work on behalf of our nation’s public health.

Art Cooper, MD
Disaster Medicine
When the American Board of Physician Specialties offered to host the American Board of Integrative Medicine, ABPS became a landmark organization working to move medicine into the twenty first century. Certifying physicians who have completed rigorous academic training in Integrative Medicine ensures that the field of Integrative Medicine will continue to develop academically, clinically, and professionally. The leadership of ABPS continues to impress me - they are diligent in constantly innovating to provide certifications for physicians who want to advance their careers and their areas of expertise. I am honored to be a part of this organization.

Ann Marie Chiasson, MD
Integrative Medicine
There are many ways board certification advances a physician career. ABPS Board examination verifies your accuracy, precision, and reflects your mastery of your residency training verifying your expertise. ABPS Board certification demonstrates your level of expertise beyond your practice experience, primary education degrees, and training which are necessary for insurance reimbursement and practice privilege requirements. Attaining your ABPS Board Certification will clarify your purpose, secure your practice growth, and expand into leadership positions. Board certification can serve as an indication of a physician’s commitment to medicine, beyond the minimal standards and competency of training, their measurement to quality of care, and attaining an award for excellence.

Chris Kunis MD
Internal Medicine
When I think historically, advancement in medicine and patient safety and care has been driven by the diversity of people and scientific thought. That’s what I found at the ABPS and more. For over 60 years that is just who we are. I found a physician certifying body that provides a choice and voice to all physicians ensuring that patients are always placed first.

Jerry Allison, MD
Emergency Medicine
When I decided to pursue a full time role as a physician executive it was important to me to obtain additional professional training, education and work experience. Board certification through the ABPS in Administrative Medicine is validation of my efforts and a demonstration of dedication to professional development. We need more physicians to become full time health care executives, knowing there is a board certification option in Administrative Medicine encourages physicians to take the leap from full time clinical practice to healthcare organizational leadership.

Richard Paula, MD
Administrative Medicine
The American Board of Physician Specialties has provided me with the opportunity to demonstrate mastery of internal medicine through board certification. As a hospitalist, board certification is an expected credential, and hospitals recognize the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS) as one of the three standard credentialling bodies for Internal Medicine. Additionally, the ABPS has helped me develop leadership skills as a Board member and Committee Chairperson. ABPS has also helped me sharpen critical thinking skills as a test question developer and reviewer. The Allopathic (MD) and Osteopathic (DO) physicians in the ABPS are lifelong learners and frequently pursue multiple board certifications. I enjoy the camaraderie of my peers in ABPS.

Loren Jay Chassels, DO
Internal Medicine