New policy statement on physician burdens

February 8, 2021

Doctors of BC has released a new policy statement focusing on physician burdens, which calls on all health system stakeholders in BC to consider the impact of individual demands that physicians face in the health system. Beginning early 2019, Doctors of BC engaged our membership to hear your thoughts on this complex topic, and how it affects you.

Doctors understand the demanding nature of medicine, but often the volume, pace, and accumulation of demands can have burdensome effects on their well-being. These burdens can negatively impact the mental and physical health of doctors, the quality of and access to patient care, as well as overall healthcare system sustainability.

Our members’ valuable feedback raised significant issues and generated insightful ideas for solutions that we assessed to determine feasibility, stakeholder appetite, and impact. You told us that high expectations around healthcare delivery under major time constraints are negatively affecting your well-being, and in some cases leading to burnout.

The policy statement incorporates findings from member outreach, and contains commitments and recommendations based on what you told us:

  • Healthcare decisionmakers and stakeholders need to look at each demand or proposed change through a cumulative impact lens, and consider how changes may affect the healthcare system as a whole. Rather than looking at a single task such as filling out a form in isolation, those involved should consider the ripple effect this task may have on others.
  • Short-term measures are needed to help physicians manage the immediate impacts of burdens and burnout.
  • Stakeholders need to identify ways to boost healthcare system efficiency by reducing burdens relating to administrative processes, practice requirements, and technology.
  • Compensation structures must be examined to ensure physicians are compensated appropriately where demands are necessary.
  • Stakeholders must address emerging burdens linked to working from home and providing virtual care, particularly for parents and caregivers.

Doctors of BC will use the recommendations in the policy statement to support our ongoing advocacy work in this area. A larger, more comprehensive policy paper on this issue is forthcoming.