The program showed no significant short-term effects in stress and burnout scores, Dr. Rosdahl said, but there were clear trends for positive effects. A health coaching intervention for attending physicians had more immediate results.
Health coaching helped physicians learn to set boundaries and priorities, build self-compassion and self-care, and enhance self-awareness. The resulting insights led to behavior changes that had indirect-but-positive impacts on patient care.
A health coach is a professional with the skills, expertise, and time to enhance client activation and engagement, Dr. Rosdahl said. Rather than giving orders, a health coach partners with clients to create successful, ongoing health behavior change.
Health coaching may be ideal for physicians. Those with time and money might invest in a formal program, such as the program in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, first developed at the University of Massachusetts and now offered all over the world.
Physicians with might try home study, such as Jon Kabat-Zin’s Full Catastrophe Living, or go online. “Monday Morning Mindfulness” is a series of free YouTube videos.
“No matter where you live or how much money you don’t have, there are options to avoid burnout,” Dr. Rosdahl said. “Don’t wait until you are burned out.
“Look at yourself and think about your values and vision for your life, focus on your own wellness, both for your own health as well as for the benefit of your patients,” Dr. Rosdahl said. “If you are a healthier person, you are going to take better care of your patients.”