discoveries magazine

How to Stamp Out Burnout

Reclaiming the Joy of Medicine: Finding Purpose, Fulfillment and Happiness in Today’s Medical Industry by Alen Voskanian, MD, MBA, Medical Director, Cedars-Sinai Medical Group

Physician burnout is at an all-time high because of widespread fatigue and work-related distress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As many physicians nationwide are questioning their long-term commitment to medicine, Alen Voskanian, MD, MBA, shares a hopeful perspective, explaining how he found purpose and meaning as a physician after experiencing work-related burnout 20 years ago.

After Dr. Voskanian chose to leave a grueling position that required him to see patients every 10 minutes and handle an avalanche of bureaucratic tasks, his passion for medicine reignited. Now at Cedars-Sinai, he's taken on an administrative role to help other physicians rediscover their love of medicine, hoping to change policies that “conflict with some of the core principles of being a physician—namely the autonomy and flexibility to choose the best care for our patients.”

Dr. Voskanian shares his personal journey, plus stories from other physicians who have overcome burnout. Instead of suggesting that his colleagues strive to become more resilient, he advocates for widespread change from healthcare organizations, which should “focus on removing the unnecessary tasks that lead to death by 1,000 paper cuts.”

He suggests that physicians may benefit from remembering why they entered their field, choosing positions that align with their values, and “realizing what is and what is not in our control—and not worrying about the latter.” It may not be the first time doctors have heard such advice, but it’s well worth reiterating, whatever field you’re in.