New program aims to empower and equip doctors

Medical doctor with a stethoscope around his neck holding

Local physicians dedicate their lives to taking care of others, but a new local program aims to equip them with tools to take better care of themselves.

LifeBridge, a physician well-being initiative of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society and Medical Foundation of Chattanooga, will host free events for medical society members on Thursday and Friday at the Erlanger Probasco Auditorium, The Walden Club and Embassy Suites, including a keynote address by Dr. Mark Greenawald.

Greenawald is a professor and vice chairman of family medicine and community medicine at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. There, he is the medical director for Physician Leadership and Professional Development for Carilion Clinic, chairman of the Faculty Vitality and Physician Well-Being Committee and has led many of Carilion's initiatives to address physician burnout.

Burnout negatively can affect a physician's mental and physical health, as well as health care costs, quality, safety, patient satisfaction and contribute to provider shortages as overwhelmed docs choose to leave the workforce.

A survey conducted by the medical society found that physician burnout rates in Chattanooga mirror the national trend. Of the 377 Hamilton County physicians who responded, 72 percent reported feeling disengaged, exhausted or both.

In response, the medical society is launching the LifeBridge program, which will include community events that address the issue, confidential counseling resources, educational and motivational resources and ongoing programs to encourage and equip physicians to thrive in a challenging and changing health care environment.

"We feel like every human being sometimes needs help getting from where they are now to where they want to be," said Rae Bond, CEO of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society.

The counseling program is intended to provide an easy, confidential resource to physicians that lets them seek help before issues become crises, and the first four sessions are provided free of charge to the physician.

LifeBridge also will create programming to help health systems and medical groups address factors that contribute to physician burnout with the goal to address the drivers of burnout, while helping restore joy in medicine, Bond said.

Participants should register for this week's event by calling 423-591-9826 or emailing [email protected] Confidential counseling appointments can be made by calling 423-591-9830.

Contact staff writer Elizabeth Fite at [email protected] or 423-757-6673.