In his travels across the globe as a bestselling author and world-renowned integrative medicine expert, Deepak Chopra, MD, often hears from people who are battling burnout, including physicians.
Drawing on this year’s conference theme, Renew Your Purpose, Renew Your Passion, Dr. Chopra will examine the issues of burnout and wellbeing when he addresses the osteopathic family on Sept. 17 at OMED 2016 in Anaheim, California.
In this edited interview, he discusses the challenges facing physicians and the two things he feels are most important to personal wellness.
Why do you think the rate of physician burnout is on the rise?
Physicians feel a lot of performance anxiety. Also, the way doctors are compensated is outmoded and obsolete. It doesn’t help the patient or the caregiver.
We need to see a major paradigm shift in physician compensation. It needs to be more prevention-based and centered around holistic care. And it’s going to happen in the next couple of years. My colleagues and I are working to educate insurance providers on the importance of focusing on prevention and holistic treatment. We tell them that if this doesn’t happen, the current system will bankrupt this country.
Preventive whole-person care lies at the heart of osteopathic medicine. It seems like the rest of the health care system is now realizing that’s what’s best for the patient.
The health care system is behind, and you guys were ahead. Osteopathic physicians have led the movement of holistic health care, and now it’s hopefully going to spread through the rest of the health system.
DOs really understand the need to take care of their patients’ mind, body and spirit. But they can struggle to take care of their own, especially when they feel burned out.
If you want to manage stress, you have to take time to engage in the five pillars of wellness: sleep, meditation, movement, emotions and nutrition. Otherwise, sooner or later you are going to get burned out.
I’ve been working with the Cleveland Clinic in Abu Dhabi to research burnout as the ultimate expression of stress. We’re using a platform I created to develop metrics for how you can subjectively and objectively measure stress and then intervene, whether it’s through laughter, massage, meditation or mindfulness breaks. These things can all help relieve stress, even if you just take a five-minute break to do a calming breathing exercise.
Of the five pillars of health you’ve identified, which is the most important?
Meditation and sleep are equally important. Probably the best strategy for health is to sleep well every night. Aim to get between seven to eight hours of sleep without sleep aids, and add 15-20 minutes of meditation every day.