AAFP Initiative Offers New Resources for Physician Well-being

Family physicians attending the opening ceremony of the AAFP’s 2017 Family Medicine Experience (FMX) here Sept. 14 were privy to the launch of a dynamic new Academy initiative that shines a spotlight on physician well-being.  

Clif Knight, M.D., the AAFP’s senior vice president for education, introduced his colleagues to a new program developed just for family physicians dubbed Physician Health First. The initiative is built around a web portal that is now open for business and waiting for physicians to explore.

Knight told the crowd that improving family physicians’ well-being is one of the Academy’s strategic goals and a priority of the AAFP Board of Directors — in part because research shows that family physician burnout is at an all-time high.

In fact, two-thirds of family physicians report at least one element of burnout, said Knight, and family medicine is among the top five medical specialties reporting burnout.

“Recently we surveyed you, our members, to determine your professional satisfaction and sense of physician well-being,” said Knight.

“We heard you say, ‘Stop trying to fix me. I’m not the problem. Fix the system, and I’ll be fine.'”

Knight asked for a show of hands from the physicians in the audience to indicate if they had ever experienced any sort of extreme stress or burnout. Hands shot up across the vast expanse of the ballroom.

“Now, keep those hands up if you are still experiencing a sense of significant stress or burnout right now,” said Knight.

Very few hands went down.

“I don’t think this demonstration surprises anyone,” said Knight.

With the help of graphics on video screens, he walked physicians through what he called the “framework” of five levels of the family physician ecosystem that can affect the risk of physician burnout.

First on the list was the U.S. health care system and its labyrinth of burdensome regulations. Next up,…

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