We’re Facing A New Epidemic In Medicine
Over 50% of physicians in the U.S. experience symptoms of burnout. The system that trains our doctors to care for others neglects to train them to care for themselves. The result is a crisis at the personal, professional, and public health level. It’s time to address it.
Burnout is a syndrome that develops secondary to work related stress and is characterized by:
Feelings of Low Accomplishment
Some physicians experiencing burnout may attempt to cope by turning to alcohol, drugs, and other similar maladaptive strategies, while others may quit medicine entirely. Disruptive behavior, disciplinary actions at work, divorce, DUI, and dismissals, are not uncommon. Suicide is another possible disastrous sequelae. 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 and higher costs. Rather than being the innocent victims of burnout, hospitals, health care systems, medical schools and other institutions are part of the problem, with workloads, social contexts, policies and traditions that place a low priority on human values inevitably leading to burnout.
Go On a Journey of Recognition, Redemption, and Rediscovery
In his bookFinding Heart in Art: A Surgeon’s Renaissance Approach to Healing Modern Medical Burnout, Dr. Jones recounts his personal journey of recovery from burnout as a young doctor. His story and his deep connection to Renaissance paintings serve as a jumping off point to explore burnout in a wider context.
Finding Heart in Art is a unique combination of memoir, spiritual journey, and practical self-help guide. 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 mitigate burnout or, ideally, to avoid it altogether. He also discusses ways to facilitate change among hospitals, medical schools and other organizations to approach the issue from a system-wide level.
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About Dr. Shawn C. Jones
Dr. Shawn C. Jones MD, FACS is a board-certified otolaryngologist with 30 years of experience in medicine and a thriving ENT practice in Paducah, Kentucky. He is also an author, consultant, and speaker on the topic of burnout among physicians and medical school students.
After experiencing burnout himself early in his medical career that left him desensitized to others and disconnected from his own heart, Dr. Jones felt called to address the problem of burnout in medicine. He now shares his story along with a message of resilience and hope to those struggling with burnout and advocates for system-wide changes to prevent burnout on an organizational level.
“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