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President's Update: November/December 2018

Posted By Chet Seward, Friday, November 30, 2018

Leonard Seibold, MD
As physicians today, we have to practice medicine in an increasingly stressful environment. In the 1980s, Maslach and colleagues described the term physician burnout as a combination of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and low personal accomplishment caused by the chronic stress of medical practice. Estimates of this self-reported syndrome range as high as 80% of all physicians in a recent JAMA review article. Ophthalmology has been described as among the happiest of all medical specialties both in and outside of work, but with some of the grim realities of practice today, even a substantial amount of us are affected by burnout. Increasing bureaucratic tasks, extensive charting requirements, and electronic medical records have been pegged as three of the most common reasons for burnout in a recent survey of ophthalmologists. Increasing government regulations and decreasing reimbursement were also frequently cited for deteriorating job satisfaction. Add to this the ever-escalating demands and expectations of patient’s vision and it is no surprise why we are more stressed than ever today. 

So, what to do about the increasing prevalence of physician burnout? The solution is likely even more complicated and amorphous as defining the condition itself. Joining a yoga studio or enrolling in mindfulness classes may help reduce stress, but they fail at addressing some of the root causes of the problem. However, with better understanding of what leads to burnout, I think we can begin to search for solutions. As your state ophthalmology society, the mission of CSEPS is often aimed to help address some of these issues. 

Our legislative committee serves to constantly surveil legislation than can affect your practice patterns and oppose those measures that increase your administrative burden or compromise scope of practice, while supporting measures that decrease bureaucratic headaches, and protect fair reimbursement. Outside of advocacy, we strive to support our members in other ways. Social events such as a recent social mixer with COA help to reconnect you with fellow ophthalmologists and build good will with our optometric colleagues. Clinical and practice management education are among other ways we help to promote your well-being as an ophthalmologist in Colorado. Your membership serves to vitally strengthen our society and our ability to minimize these practice burdens as well as protect patient safety. Burnout is a complex problem but CSEPS and AAO can play a small but critical role at minimizing future burdens and rolling back present ones.

As I near the end of my term as CSEPS president, I am deeply grateful to our membership and board of directors for helping maintain the strength of our noble profession in Colorado. The vision and drive of our past leadership has fulfilled our mission to promote excellence in patient care through advocacy, education and fostering professional fellowship. It has been an honor to serve in furthering this mission over the past year, and I look forward to the future direction of our 2019 president, Chris Thiagarajah.

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