Newswise — MAYWOOD, IL – Studies suggest that more than 50 percent of U.S. physicians experience symptoms of burnout. Burnout increases the rate of medical errors, malpractice risk and turnover, and adversely affects patient satisfaction and physician quality of life.

Physician burnout is characterized by exhaustion (physical, mental and/or emotional), cynicism and lack personal accomplishment.

Loyola Medicine pathologist Marissa Saint Martin, MD, ACC, is leading an initiative to help prevent burnout in young doctors.

Dr. Saint Martin leads a wellness program and ACGME-compliant curriculum at Loyola to help prevent burnout among pathology residents. The initiative incorporates burnout-prevention methods developed by the financial industry. These include monthly wellness talks and education about resources available through the Loyola Medicine Resilience Team.

The resources include free sessions with resilience coaches; access to psychological help and the employee assistance program; chaplain services; volunteering and networking opportunities; and fitness center discounts. Wellness talk topics include physical, mental and spiritual wellness; suicide prevention awareness; communication and goal-setting skills; and mindfulness.

 A study of the program demonstrated that wellness and resilience can be taught.

"Our ultimate goals are to increase wellness among pathology residents, prepare them for a high-stress environment and incorporate the wellness tools they have learned into their new workplaces," said Dr. Saint Martin, an assistant professor in Loyola's Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.

For leading the initiative, Dr. Saint Martin recently received the prestigious Roger Schenke Award from the American Association for Physician Leadership. The association is the only professional organization dedicated to providing education, career support and advocacy to physician leaders. The Roger Schenke Award is named after the association's founder.