Improve the health of the people of Wisconsin by supporting and strengthening physicians' ability to practice high-quality patient care in a changing environment.

Restoring joy in practice

One of the Society’s strategic priorities involves physician satisfaction, and I want to talk a bit about restoring the joy in practice for physicians. Last month, I attended the American Medical Group Association (AMGA) Annual Meeting and one of the sessions I participated in was on physician burnout. It got me thinking about why I don’t think I am feeling burned out and why I still get great joy in practice.

For me, finding things to do that make me happy outside of medicine help reinvigorate me. For the last 16 years, I have been playing hockey with a group of physicians and others from our community on Sunday nights. I spend half the week getting ready and excited for the game, and the next half of the week reliving the highlights—and most often—incredible failures of my hour and a half on the ice.

The exercise is great, and it is generally fairly competitive and a high energy activity, which I think is one part of the restoration process of hockey. A second, and perhaps more important, part comes after we’re finished. We gather across the street at the tavern to drink Diet Squirts or a beer, eat peanuts and have lots of laughs about our foibles and failures on the ice. These guys I play hockey with have become great friends and it serves as an excellent safety valve for the pressures of the week.

Another thing that I think has been helpful is working on issues that directly affect my practice and the practice of my colleagues. Whether that’s serving on a committee at the hospital or as a delegate at the Society’s Annual Meeting or serving in my current role, I feel that playing a role in finding solutions to problems serves as a powerful antidote to burnout.

So whether you are biking, jogging, belong to book group or just take joy in relaxing with your family, having an outside activity to counter the day-to-day stress of everyday practice is important. And if you’re not involved, getting active within your group, your clinic or another group such as the Wisconsin Medical Society to help improve our practices and profession is also an excellent way to recharge and make a change.

If you are ever experiencing symptoms of burnout or feeling stressed, feel free to reach out to me or anyone at the Society to get help for these concerns. And as always, feel free to contact me with questions or concerns.

Doctor Dexter, MD, a board-certified neurologist and sleep medicine specialist, is the Wisconsin Medical Society’s chief medical officer. He also serves as vice chief medical officer, Northwest Wisconsin Region, for Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, is an assistant professor of neurology at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and he continues to practice part-time. He received his medical degree from Mayo Medical School in Rochester, Minn., and he completed his residency and fellowship at the Mayo School of Graduate Medical Education.

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