In addition to addressing workplace stressors, leaders in radiology should have an increased awareness of other key drivers of burnout, including inclusivity issues and challenges for radiologists who are managing their own health conditions.
Radiologist advocate. This term describes my approach to the profession. I have been a pediatric radiologist for eight years. During this time, I have learned a lot about myself, specifically outside of my clinical capabilities. I have been candid about my personal struggles with burnout, and how those experiences have made me grow as a person, clinician, colleague, and advocate for others in similar situations.
There are many drivers of burnout that need to be addressed in order to successfully mitigate it. In my ongoing research on this topic, I have become passionate about a few aspects that I want to delve into more in the future.
The first is the role of leadership in preventing burnout. The leaders in a company or department create the culture of the workplace, which is crucial in contributing to or mitigating burnout. Individual factors certainly play a role in burnout but addressing workplace stressors has the most significant impact. Effective leaders play a critical role in addressing these stressors and creating a healthier workplace.
Lack of inclusion is another driver of workplace burnout. This awareness has been significantly heightened in the past few years with diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts coming to the forefront in medicine. Creating a psychologically safe workplace that is inclusive of everyone is an important factor in mitigating burnout among physicians. This is true for all marginalized groups, regardless of age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identification, etc., with evidence showing that inclusivity in the workplace creates a better work environment for everyone and increases productivity. As a minority woman in academic medicine, I have personally experienced being the “other” and have learned from this. I hope to share this experience with others to facilitate increased awareness and spark discussions of how to improve inclusivity moving forward.
Lastly, in the past two years with the COVID-19 pandemic, physical and mental vulnerability have also been heightened for many, including me. I had to face challenges associated with my underlying autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis, which I have had for over 12 years. Being immunosuppressed during the uncertain times of the pandemic (which still continues) has added significant daily anxiety and stress for me both mentally and physically. The pandemic’s sudden, unexpected and sustained challenges has put a strain on my mental energy. I realized this may be the case for many in medicine with the pandemic potentially exacerbating burnout. As conditions like mine may exist unseen and unknown to colleagues, I have been sharing my story to bring awareness to this poorly appreciated driver of burnout in the hope that others dealing with medical conditions or illnesses can relate to this and be seen.
I have been lucky to have fantastic colleagues, mentors, friends and family to help me through my challenging times. Through this blog, I hope to share some of my experiences and lessons to help others as well as hear from others about their experiences and potential solutions. It is my hope that continued discussion of these issues can lead to meaningful change.