SINCE THE EARLY DAYS of hospital medicine, people have worried that the specialty’s hours, schedules and workloads would lead to burnout. And while hospitalist programs have tried to address burnout and career satisfaction, many might do better by addressing this key factor: collegiality.
In this month’s cover story, we look at how a lack of collegiality among hospitalists is hurting the specialty and, perhaps, the profession. Put simply, hospitalists often don’t talk to each other any more.
In the days before electronic records, for example, physicians would flock to nurses’ stations to get hold of paper charts. With everyone today glued to a computer screen, the sense of community gained from rubbing shoulders with colleagues is gone.
In the not-so-old days, hospitalists would spend time in physicians’ lounges, talking to their colleagues over a cup of coffee or a bite to eat. These days, the lounges that haven’t been eliminated by cost-cutting may resemble a ghost town. Everyone is so busy (or glued to their own mobile devices, if they do have any downtime) that they barely make time to talk to their colleagues.
Such examples may seem trivial, but the kinds of interactions that are disappearing at many hospitals are important. They help hospitalists connect with each other and other doctors, which helps promote wellness and prevent burnout.
As one physician in our article explained, when you’re feeling overworked and stressed out, it helps to realize you’re not alone. And that can come from talking to and commiserating with colleagues.
As we approach the end of the year, here’s my wish for those of you reading this: The next time you have a rare few minutes at work, seek out a colleague. Maybe you could even fit in a coffee (or something stronger) together.
Editor & Publisher