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Faculty Vitality and Well-Being: Overview and Significance

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Chantal Brazeau, MD
Assistant Dean for Faculty Vitality
Rutgers New Jersey Medical School

David Musick, PhD
Senior Dean, Faculty Affairs
Professor, Internal Medicine 
Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine

Jonathan I. Matsui, PhD
Senior Program Director for Academic Affairs
Harvard Medical School

Nina L. Dickerman, MS
Manager, Work/Life and Recognition
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Michael Rowland, PhD
Associate Dean, Faculty and Professional Development
Associate Professor, Department of Internal Medicine
University of Kentucky College of Medicine

As faculty affairs, faculty development, and human resources professionals, we are often confronted with the daily challenges and issues that affect faculty. Funding opportunities for critical research have seen their share of difficulties over the past 20 years. Technology, legislation such as the Affordable Care Act, new care delivery models, and electronic medical records have led to significant changes in how health care is provided.1 These factors can cause stress and lead to burnout in faculty. The National Academy of Medicine has identified over 80 factors that contribute to burnout,2 and the past 10 years have brought increased recognition of the high percentages of burnout among U.S. clinicians (nearly 50% in 2017).3 Another report focused on academic medical centers (AMCs) indicates that 31% of clinical and 26% of basic sciences faculty in AMCs self-report at least one symptom of burnout, and this is probably an underestimate.4

How these stressors and burnout manifest among faculty — whether as distress in faculty, unprofessional behavior, increase in patient errors, physician and faculty turnover, addiction, or suicidal concerns — can lead to tragic outcomes if not carefully handled. This section on faculty well-being reviews effective communication about this topic; pertinent benefits and policies to support faculty; key concepts in developing faculty well-being programs; and resources about faculty well-being for faculty affairs, faculty development, and human resources professionals.

References

  1. Friedberg MW, Chen PG, Van Busum KR, et al. Factors Affecting Physician Professional Satisfaction and Their Implications for Patient Care, Health Systems, and Health Policy. Washington, DC: Rand Corporation; 2013. www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/research_reports/RR400/RR439/RAND_RR439.pdf.
  2. Brigham T, Barden C, Dopp AL, et al. Factors affecting clinician well-being and resilience [discussion paper]. NAM Perspectives. Jan. 29, 2019. https://nam.edu/journey-construct-encompassing-conceptual-model-factors-affecting-clinician-well-resilience. Accessed July 20, 2019.
  3. Shanafelt TD, West CP, Sinsky C, Trockel M, Tutty M, Satele DV. Changes in burnout and satisfaction with work-life integration in physicians and the general U.S. working population between 2011 and 2017. Mayo Clin Proc. 2019;94(9):1681-1694.
  4. Dandar V, RK Grigsby, SA Bunton. Burnout among U.S. medical school faculty. Analysis in Brief. 2019;19(1).

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