News, MSDC Statements, and MSDC Testimony on Health Equity Issues
24th Council session information coming soon.
Physician Foundation Survey: The State of Physician Wellbeing Remains Low
The Physicians Foundation released part two of its 2022 Survey of America’s Physicians, aimed at understanding the state of physicians’ wellbeing and assessing solutions to address it. With National Physician Suicide Awareness Day just days away, on September 17, the results are concerning. There is a persistent decrease in overall physician wellbeing that is made worse by structural barriers and stigma in the physician community.
More than two years into pandemic and amid draining workplace challenges, the state of physician wellbeing remains low.
- Six in 10 physicians often have feelings of burnout, compared to four in 10 before the pandemic in 2018.
- One-third have felt hopeless or that they have no purpose.
- Half report withdrawing from family/friends/co-workers.
- More than one-third of physicians have checked in with a colleague who they suspected was experiencing mental health distress.
Physicians feel disconnected from the resources and people they should be able to rely on. Regrettably, significantly fewer physicians rate their colleagues, medical practices and hospital/health system as helpful to their mental health and wellbeing than they did a year ago. Half of physicians or more shared that their workplace rarely or never takes action on eight of the 12 evidence-based wellbeing actions identified to support physicians. These barriers and lack of support can and have led to tragic outcomes. More than half of physicians know of a physician who has ever considered, attempted or died by suicide.
Physicians need and deserve better. The survey identified what supports their mental health and wellbeing most.
- More than eight in 10 physicians shared their family and friends as most helpful to their mental health and wellbeing
- A higher proportion of black physicians than white and Hispanic physicians rated their family (92% vs. 85% and 87%, respectively) as very or somewhat helpful in the past year
- Confidential therapy, counseling or support phone lines were rated as the most helpful resource among physicians who had experience with it, followed by peer-to-peer support groups.
- 65% found confidential therapy, counseling or support phone lines to be helpful.
- 57% found peer-to-peer support groups to be helpful.
Clearly, physicians desire social connection and, at times, professional counseling to support their wellbeing. The Healthy Physician Foundation offers confidential counseling and career coaching at no cost to its members, plus a suite of online easily accessible resources. To facilitate critical social bonds, MSDC offers physician communities centered on common interests and goals, as well as an array of physician-oriented events. The Physicians Foundation lists “checking in with a physician” as one of six action steps to support wellbeing.
The study identified solutions to address physician wellbeing that are important to heed. Physicians in the survey highlighted the need to reduce low-level work and increase physician leadership.
- 89% found removing low-value work, including reducing EHR clicks and minimizing inbox notifications, helpful.
- 87% found giving physicians more flexibility and autonomy to adjust quality and patient experience goals helpful.
- 85% found eliminating insurance approvals such as pre-authorization helpful.
It is important to remedy the stigma, structural barriers, and excessive low-level work which exacerbate burnout. Physicians need and deserve better when it comes to their wellbeing and mental health. See healthyphysician.org for resources and ideas to heal our nation’s healers.
Sample of Health Equity Legislation MSDC Tracked
What does it say? The bill allows for the administration of medicinal marijuana in schools as well as allows students to bring sunscreen to schools and apply it without a prescription.
MSDC position: MSDC supports the language permitting sunscreen application in schools
Current status: A win for DC physicians and public health! The legislation passed the Council in February and was signed by the Mayor. Previous temporary and emergency legislation permitted students to use sunscreen at schools this school year already.
What does it say? The bill requires DC Health to establish an electronic Medical Order for Scope of Treatment registry (eMOST).
MSDC position: MSDC supports this legislation to more easily allow patients to make their treatment orders known.
Current status: A win for the physician community and our patients! The Council passed the bill in December and the Mayor signed it into law on January 16, 2020.
What does it say? The bill would implement a 1.5 cent per ounce tax on the distribution of "sugary" beverages. The money collected from the tax would establish a Healthy People, Healthy Places Open Spaces Grant Program.
MSDC position: MSDC sent a letter to Council Chair Mendelson asking for a hearing to discuss all of the issues around a beverage tax.
Current status: The bill was introduced October 8, 2019 and referred to the Committee on Business and Economic Development and the Committee of the Whole.