Executive Leadership and Physician Well-being: Nine Organizational Strategies to Promote Engagement and Reduce Burnout

Mayo Clin Proc. 2017 Jan;92(1):129-146. doi: 10.1016/j.mayocp.2016.10.004. Epub 2016 Nov 18.


These are challenging times for health care executives. The health care field is experiencing unprecedented changes that threaten the survival of many health care organizations. To successfully navigate these challenges, health care executives need committed and productive physicians working in collaboration with organization leaders. Unfortunately, national studies suggest that at least 50% of US physicians are experiencing professional burnout, indicating that most executives face this challenge with a disillusioned physician workforce. Burnout is a syndrome characterized by exhaustion, cynicism, and reduced effectiveness. Physician burnout has been shown to influence quality of care, patient safety, physician turnover, and patient satisfaction. Although burnout is a system issue, most institutions operate under the erroneous framework that burnout and professional satisfaction are solely the responsibility of the individual physician. Engagement is the positive antithesis of burnout and is characterized by vigor, dedication, and absorption in work. There is a strong business case for organizations to invest in efforts to reduce physician burnout and promote engagement. Herein, we summarize 9 organizational strategies to promote physician engagement and describe how we have operationalized some of these approaches at Mayo Clinic. Our experience demonstrates that deliberate, sustained, and comprehensive efforts by the organization to reduce burnout and promote engagement can make a difference. Many effective interventions are relatively inexpensive, and small investments can have a large impact. Leadership and sustained attention from the highest level of the organization are the keys to making progress.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Burnout, Professional / etiology
  • Burnout, Professional / prevention & control*
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology
  • Delivery of Health Care / economics
  • Delivery of Health Care / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Health Facility Administrators / organization & administration
  • Health Facility Administrators / psychology*
  • Health Facility Administrators / standards
  • Health Promotion / methods
  • Health Promotion / organization & administration
  • Health Promotion / standards*
  • Humans
  • Insurance, Health / economics
  • Insurance, Health / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Insurance, Health / trends*
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Leadership
  • Occupational Health Services / methods
  • Occupational Health Services / organization & administration
  • Occupational Health Services / standards*
  • Organizational Culture
  • Organizational Innovation
  • Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act / economics
  • Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act / standards
  • Physicians / organization & administration
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Work-Life Balance / methods
  • Work-Life Balance / organization & administration
  • Work-Life Balance / standards