Theresa Lawrence Ford, MD: State of Burnout in Rheumatology

Theresa Lawrence Ford, MD, CEO and medical director of North Georgia Rheumatology Group and board member of the Association of Women in Rheumatology, gives her opinion on the current state of burnout among rheumatologists.

There are some issues and trends in that transcend across nearly all specialties, perhaps the most widely-discussed and troubling of these is burnout.

In a recent survey, 68% of US-based physicians reported experiencing some level of burnout and some fields of medicine have been more impacted than others.

With so many clinicians impacted, it is no surprise that burnout and effective strategies to mitigate its impact are often a hot topic of discussion in the hallways and between sessions at annual conferences. The Clinical Congress of Rheumatology (CCR) West 2019 annual meeting in San Diego, CA is no different.

While it was not headlining a symposium or the subject of a poster being presented, the knowledge and firsthand experience with burnout among rheumatologists was the subject of conversation for some CCR West attendees.

To learn more about the current state of burnout among rheumatologists, Theresa Lawrence Ford, CEO and medical director of North Georgia Rheumatology Group and board member of the Association of Women in Rheumatology, sat down with MD Magazine® to give her perspective on the issue.

MD Magazine: From your standpoint, what is the current state of burnout among rheumatologists?

Ford: There very much is a prevalence in the field. rheumatologists are physicians that spend a lot of time with their patients. it's a lot of thought process, we have some technical input as far as doing procedures, as well as looking at radiographs or ultrasounds. It takes a lot to evaluate a patient with a rheumatologic illness.

Then, sometimes, if we look at reimbursements and we compare that to gender equality there there are issues that we are currently trying to get answers to with a survey, actually, looking at you know how we are perceived and where we are in the workplace.

So, burnout is a definite concern as mothers, as wives, as practitioners—there are good listeners; the time that it takes to gather information, to follow information. Burnout is an issue. We feel that our organization will help with that reminding our colleagues that we need to take time, it's okay to take time for ourselves, and to concentrate on on aspects that will allow us to not only rest but to nurture ourselves as far as nutrition and exercise and highlight these in an effort to (achieve) work-balance, but number 1 become aware that burnout is a true entity and that work-balance is very important.

It's going to be specific for every practitioner I feel but I think a recognition and encompassing that and addressing those issues, with lecturers, with sessions—that we can learn and share with others will help significantly.