Over 50% of physicians report burnout or a form of depression.
15% of depressed doctors feel their depression may cause them to make errors.
Nearly 400 physicians are lost to suicide annually.
These are scary and shocking facts about physician burnout. Doctors today have a growing multitude of responsibilities from administrative duties, regulatory measures, management, patient care…the list goes on. It’s common for work stresses, which may extend to late hours in the day, to carry over into home life. OB/GYNs have erratic schedules which may include managing an office and on-call responsibilities. Helping to bring new life into the world is extremely rewarding and good outcomes are expected. When bad outcomes occur the stress and feelings of shame and disappointment are debilitative to the body and mind. OB/GYNs are the second most sued specialty for malpractice. It’s no surprise that OB/GYN physicians are listed 4th most burned out physician specialty, after Critical Care, Neurology and Family Medicine. To say that something is “life changing” is a bold expression, but given perspective, for Dr. Rob Olson and Dr. Brendan Carroll, moving to a hospitalist role was “life changing.”
Overall Enriched Life
Dr. Rob Olson practiced for 28 years in a successful solo practice. Working a busy office schedule and taking call every third night meant he frequently missed one third of birthdays, one third of dinners, one third of important personal events. He was missing out on a third of his life away from work. Sometimes when he was able to attend personal events he didn’t feel he was actually there. His personal health was taking a downturn from the draining schedule. Dr. Olson felt physically and emotionally exhausted outside of work. He had very little time to recharge.
At an American College of OB/GYN annual clinical meeting presentation, Dr. Olson first heard about the OB/GYN hospitalist model. A healthy work/life balance appealed to him. He sold his practice in 2006 and never looked back.
Life as a hospitalist meant taking back time for himself. Working set shifts enabled him to recharge his spiritual and emotional batteries. He felt alive and present outside of work, and refreshed and more focused fulfilling his hospitalist role. The shift work also improved his performance. With downtime outside of work he had time to further his education and development by keeping up to date on best practices and training. Plus, focusing primarily on labor and delivery gave him more experience, honing his clinical skills. Dr. Rob Olson was one of the first OB/GYN hospitalists and founded the Society of OB/GYN Hospitalists (SOGH). He continues to advocate for the benefits a hospitalist program brings by improving quality patient care and safety while maintaining a healthy environment for physicians.
Dr. Brendan Carroll owned his own practice for 16 years and was devoted to his practice and his patients. Piled on top of his existing responsibilities, administrative tasks grew every year, which meant an increasing amount of hours away from his family.
Dr. Carroll said that “in another 10 years, my boys would be grown and out of the house. I would have spent little time with them and I couldn’t get that time back”.
Family time was his motivation for change. Dr. Carroll knew continuing the same way was not sustainable and was misaligned with his values. He considered a number of options. Although he was not what he expected, a hospitalist role called out to him, and in 2014 he transitioned to a full time OB/GYN hospitalist.
A hospitalist has a unique set of skills that matched his, such as good bedside manner and establishing a good rapport with patients he had just met. He found offering specialized care extremely rewarding and the new role had stimulating leadership challenges. Focusing his care on inpatient obstetrics enabled him to rapidly increase his experience and skill even after 16 years in practice. His family time increased significantly. He worked almost half as many hours compared to when he owned and ran his own practice. The former demanding schedule was the norm, so it took some time for Dr. Carroll’s kids to get used to having their dad fully present. He would often remind them, “If you see me, I’m not working.” The change to a hospitalist role was transformative for his career and family life. Dr. Carroll is his his hospital’s Physician Lead OB hospitalist, the OB/GYN Medical Director and is a board member for the Society of OB/GYN Hospitalists (SOGH).
According to the 2018 Medscape Physician Lifestyle and Happiness report only 50% of OB/GYNs are happy outside of work. SOGH surveyed their members in 2016 on their satisfaction with their career choice as hospitalists. Many had moved to this field from a general OB/GYN practice to regain a work life balance. 91% responded highly satisfied or satisfied with their career choice. Although the survey questions were different, this does shed some insight on the different degrees of job satisfaction of a general OB/GYN and an OB/GYN hospitalist.
The OB/GYN hospitalist model is becoming the standard in busy labor and delivery units, improving quality care and patient safety. As experienced by Dr. Olson and Dr. Carroll, its benefits are far reaching, impacting well-being and performance of providers. If you’ve been thinking of building a new hospitalist program, improving an existing one, or have any questions about this field and its benefits, please contact the National OB/GYN Hospitalist Consulting Group. It may change your life.