Introduction: Burnout is a major threat to patient care quality and physician career longevity in emergency medicine. We sought to develop and implement a quality improvement process to engage emergency department (ED) faculty in identifying sources of burnout and generating interventions targeted at improving the work environment.
Methods: In this prospective interventional study conducted at a large, urban, academic medical center, we surveyed a 60-person faculty group using the Professional Fulfilment Index (PFI), as well as burnout-relevant questions from the American Medical Association’s Mini-Z survey and the Maslach-Leiter framework for organizational burnout, in order to identify organizational sources of burnout. We assessed the relationship between burnout scores and responses to the Maslach-Leiter framework using univariate regression analysis. In a two-hour facilitated session, we shared survey results and led the group in a process using the six Maslach-Leiter domains to develop a rank-ordered list of interventions to reduce burnout in each domain.
Results: In total, 47 of 60 faculty (78.3%) completed the survey and 45 faculty (75%) attended the discussion session. Of the 47 survey respondents, 14 (30%) met criteria for moderate to severe burnout. The respondents’ answers to the Maslach-Leiter organizational burnout domain questions were significantly correlated with their burnout scores (P <0.001). Session attendees generated 31 potential interventions for process improvement, which were analyzed and thematically organized. Common intervention themes included reducing documentation burden, receiving more positive feedback on patient care, improving ease of obtaining consults, decreasing ED crowding, and increasing intrafaculty social connection. Interventions were subsequently reviewed and scored based on relative importance and feasibility to create a departmental action plan for process improvement.
Conclusion: Using the Maslach-Leiter organizational burnout framework, in conjunction with a facilitated solution-oriented faculty discussion, led to the creation of a departmental agenda focused on organizational solutions for augmenting professional fulfillment and reducing burnout. We propose that this process can be used by healthcare organizations to engage physicians and others in efforts to improve their work experiences, which in turn is likely also to support the provision of higher quality of care.