President’s Perspective – Nov/Dec 2022

Thomas J. Veverka, MD, FACS


Burnout and physician wellness are well-worn subjects for this publication, and for good reason: it is a serious problem, and the data indicates it is only getting worse.

Across surveys and data sets, the numbers are generally the same—roughly half of all physicians are suffering from not just stress, but severe, long-term, unresolvable job-related stress—in other words: burnout. And it is a condition that can come with serious consequences, not just to the providers suffering but to the patients they treat and the health care system as a whole.

What can be done to fix this? It starts with considering the numbers below.

According to a 2022 survey from Medscape, nearly half of all physicians with depression indicated they would deal with their problems on their own, with 43 percent indicating they would not seek help due to fear of it being disclosed to their medical board, 25 percent concerned that their colleagues may find out, and 22 percent concerned such an admission could result in being shunned from the medical profession.

These figures are unacceptable and it is time we eliminate the stigma and barriers preventing our colleagues from getting the help they need and deserve. The Michigan State Medical Society is doing its part to help.

It starts with providing the resources that can make a difference. Launched in 2021, SafeHaven™ offers health care teams a comprehensive set of well-being resources that may be used confidentially and without risk to a provider’s medical license.

The onus is now on each and every one of us to establish the kind of culture of care that not only enables but encourages suffering providers to take advantage of these resources. There is no shame in burnout. There is no shame in needing help. The tools and support you may need are now available, and everyone should feel empowered and emboldened to use them.

Wishing you a pleasant fall,

Thomas J. Veverka, MD, FACS
MSMS President