Finding Heart In Art
Burnout In Medicine: A Growing Problem
Over 50% of physicians in the U.S. are suffering from at least one symptom of burnout, according to research . Rates among residents and medical school students are similarly high. While trying to keep up with the physical and emotional demands of their profession, many physicians push themselves too hard; in their desire to help others, they end up hurting themselves.
Burnout is a syndrome that develops secondary to work related stress and is characterized by:
Feelings of Low Accomplishment
Some physicians experiencing burnout may cope by turning to alcohol, drugs, and similar vices, while others may quit medicine entirely. Divorce, DUI, dismissals, and disciplinary actions at work are also common. Suicide is another unfortunate result. Rates of suicide among physicians are higher than in the general population, despite equivalent levels of depression and other mental illnesses. Is this not part of the fallout from burnout?
Hospitals with high levels of burnout among staff are linked to suboptimal care. Rather than being the victims of this burnout, hospitals and medical schools are a large part of the problem, carrying on traditions that reward behavior leading to burnout.
This epidemic is not just a crisis on a personal level but on a public health and health system level, too. It’s time to do something about it.
Beauty, Art, and the Spirit:
How One Doctor Overcame Burnout
In Finding Heart in Art: A Surgeon’s Renaissance Approach to Healing Modern Medical Burnout, Dr. Shawn C. Jones shares his own story about burnout early in his medical career. He opens up about how he came to the realization that he needed help and how that process slowly unfolded, a process of discovery and profound vulnerability.
The key to redemption, it turned out, was 16th and 17th Renaissance art. Dr. Jones never had much time for art in the past, but somewhere along the way he realized it was a powerful way to connect directly with his emotions, which he had been out of touch with. Dr. Jones reflects on how the stories from the Bible depicted in a half-dozen Renaissance paintings parallel his experiences of being wounded and healing, giving meaning through their beauty and truth.
“This powerful exposition daringly reveals the struggle of an erudite healer proficient in helping others, but ill-equipped to save himself. In his own journey of self-discovery, not unlike the conversion of Ignatius de Loyola, Shawn experienced a transformative epiphany that restored to him a life nearly lost. As an emergency physician reflecting upon my own experience, Shawn’s story strikes painfully close to home. In this time of growing clinician disillusionment and burnout, this timely work is valuable both to healers seeking their own journeys of redemption and their family, friends, and patients who love and rely upon them.”
Steven J. Stack, MD
ER Physician, Lexington, KY
“Finding Heart in Art is more than a book, it is a channel of grace that may save your life. For those experiencing burnout or a numbness to life, rediscover what it means to connect with yourself, to be human made in the image of God, and to embrace beauty, creativity, and imagination all over again. Dr. Shawn Jones has provided a map for your journey filled with personal stories, captivating art, solid research, and exercises for reflection. Come and be transformed.”
CEO and creator of Lightgliders, St. Louis, MO
“Dr. Shawn Jones describes an intimate journey about his loss of self and subsequent redemption. With the support of his family, Shawn explores concepts of self-awareness, faith, spirituality and the healing power of art, all while painting a narrative that is both familiar and contemporary. Poignant in nature, his story serves as both a cautionary tale for the initiate on their passage to becoming a medical practitioner and a healing guide for those who measure their self-worth and individual identity based upon their career.”
Scott D. Duncan, MD, MHA, FAAP
Professor and Assoc. Chief, Division of Neonatal Medicine, Dept. of Pediatrics, University of Louisville
Practical Guide and Moving Memoir
This book is a unique combination of memoir, spiritual journey, and practical self-help guide in one. Each chapter ends with takeaways and a number of exercises that prompt self-reflection for those experiencing burnout. Dr. Jones addresses the practices and values that current and budding physicians can develop to heal burnout or, ideally, to avoid it altogether. He also discusses ways to facilitate change among hospitals and medical schools to approach the issue from a system-wide level.
Finding Heart in Art is the story of one man’s experience with burnout but it tells a much wider story, one of disconnection, reconnection, and, above all, hope.