In exchange for time spent on such tasks as mentoring, serving on committees, and covering shifts for other providers, Stanford's pilot program allowed faculty members to receive work- and home-related services: meal delivery, cleaning services, or grant-writing support, for instance, New England Journal of Medicine national correspondents Alexi A. Wright, MD, MPH, from Harvard Medical School and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and Ingrid T. Katz, MD, MHS, from Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, explain.
The initiative was successful, particularly among female faculty members, who in a survey conducted by the school were most likely to report feeling unsupported or undersupported in their career development. "Though this initiative was meant for all physicians and basic scientists, women used these services more frequently than men, and the number of female faculty members who reported 'feeling supported' had nearly doubled by the end of the pilot program," the authors write.
Programs such as time banking signify an important cultural shift in medicine, according to Tait Shanafelt, MD, who joined Stanford Medicine in September 2017 as the organization's chief wellness officer. Stanford is the first academic medical center in the country to create an executive-level position of this kind focused specifically on clinician well-being. But many more will likely follow as the true cost of burnout — medical errors, poor clinical outcomes, high turnover, low engagement — becomes increasingly obvious, Dr. Shanafelt said in an interview with Medscape Medical News. "Physician burnout is eroding the soul of medicine. Organizations need to constantly gauge the well-being of providers and develop and implement research-based interventions to address the practice considerations that contribute to clinician suffering."