We know the rigors of physicianhood and the unique challenges that physicians today face. We also recognize the need for a trustworthy resource in which physicians can converse with each other about the unique array of challenges they face, access expert guidance on navigating these, and re-create the conditions by which physicians can find the sustenance that makes physicianhood itself fulfilling.
We’ve individually spoken with hundreds of physicians and, via presentations, articles, and the ensuing discussions, thousands more. The duress that so many physicians grapple with today comes from an array of stressors that was simply non-existent in prior generations.
Burnout affects nearly 50% of practicing physicians today. While there are numerous common causes, each physician’s distress in a unique stress array. The EMR, malpractice stress, and unsatisfactory employment circumstances are certainly three recurring themes. But there are a cascade of others too numerous to mention here which play a role for many others. Unaddressed, a physician’s weardown can rapidly enter into the sphere of major burnout which can lead to career attrition, burnout, disruptive behavior and, in all cases, a diminished if not entirely unfulfilling worklife.
Medical Licensing Boards, so-called Physician Health Programs, and Peer Review (or “Performance Appraisal”) entities can wreak havoc with a physician’s job and career stability. While only a minority of physicians may come to the attention of these entities, the engagement is fraught with dangers. We have witnessed too many physicians (and residents, and even med students) have their career trajectories and very livelihoods traumatically upended by fundamentally unfair – and too often dishonest – proceedings which ensnare them is legally complex, psychologically overwhelming and financially burdensome ordeals protracted over years.
We’ve studied these issues for over a decade and are intimately familiar with the perilous terrain. As an outgrowth of CPR The Center for Physicians Rights (www.PhysicianRights.net), Physician Interrupted aims to be the primary resource assisting physicians through these harrowing ordeals, building a solid community of allies, educating the larger medical community about the unexamined dangers of these non-overseen entities' rights abuses, and researching legal and legislative approaches to confront these abuses and compel compliance with state and federal law and medical ethics. And the great news is ... we're making solid headway. (Be sure to sign up on CPR to stay apprised.)
The medical culture itself. Everyone recognizes that medical training is comparable to boot camp. However, that "eat your young" mentality and insistence on commitment to physicianhood as a martyred priesthood permeates the culture of medicine. And yet the very structures which offered physicians the "perks" of the profession, e.g. grand rounds, widespread community respect, equitable compensation for the effort, have been systematically removed. The medical culture is left hollow, angry, and cynical.
And the healthcare system itself has posed fundamental challenges to physicians' identity as compassionate healers, changing them into "providers," "vendors," and the like. Physicians yearn for a means to air these concerns, to explore approaches to the provision of healthcare in ways that are in keeping with their core values.
First and foremost, we offer a private means for physicians to come together to converse, share, learn, connect, and build alliances.
While social media offers a flood of “posts” and a noisy crowd of commentary, it’s not suited for sustained dialog, nor for genuine connection with peers. To acquire needed knowledge and skills in these physician-specific career areas, one has to search far and wide to assemble the curriculum of the very specialized knowledge one needs. Even there, one is still faced with the challenge of finding truly knowledgeable teachers who know the territory and suitable peers with whom to engage in authentic dialog in these areas.
The beauty of this “Mighty Networks” software platform is that it affords privacy while also giving the full range of flexibility of exchanging richly informative content in the form of topically relevant posts and articles. It provides an opportunity for sustained engagement. It enables the delivery of e-courses uniquely geared to the physician population grappling with these specific challenges. And whether in courses or private group seminars, the opportunity for live engagement not only with the teacher but with each of the participants in sufficiently small groups so as to allow real dialog.
The truth is, this is a bold vision and a daunting undertaking. To create a specialized community just for physicians, and focused just on those physicians grappling with these select challenges. But it's not done on a lark. After speaking with many physicians across the country in just about every specialty and practice setting, we’re confident that this endeavor is unique and needed. And we believe that in conjunction with gifted teachers and workshop leaders and discussion facilitators, our talented physician community itself will co-create and shape this entity and will fully utilize this resource towards enabling physicians not only to find fulfillment in their careers but to re-craft physicianhood and the medical culture itself.