Suzanne Chong, MD, MS, Chair of the American College of Radiology® Commission on General, Small, Emergency and Rural Practice’s Committee on Emergency Radiology, contributed this post.

Burnout. It’s a long-standing occupational phenomenon that’s only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing radiologist shortage. As an emergency radiologist at major trauma centers that serve a statewide patient catchment, I’ve experienced high case volumes combined with high case acuity and complexity while working afterhours when the healthcare system is under-resourced. Throughout the pandemic, many, if not all, radiology practices have grappled with the same issues — staffing challenges, resource availability and organizational stability, which hinder our ability to deliver timely, high-quality patient care. When experienced on a sustained basis, these system deficiencies drive burnout even in the most resilient and experienced radiologists.

There are numerous solutions that have been suggested to mitigate burnout, ranging from exercise to sleep and proper nutrition. Unfortunately, these solutions, though generally well-intended, are misguided, as they merely touch on individual symptoms and fail to target the root causes of burnout. As radiologists, we must come together to identify and eliminate the systemic conditions that cause burnout.

So, what are the processes that can be changed? And how?

As a first step, I encourage you to take a look at the Imaging 3.0 in Practice special collection, Getting to the Root: Addressing Systemic Causes of Burnout. The collection features case studies and resources that allow you to take a deeper dive into the causes of burnout, then implement various strategies to mitigate systemic issues and increase wellness in your workplace. I also encourage you to have high-level discussions in your practices that focus on resource commitments aimed at correcting system deficiencies to create sustainable workplaces that enable radiologists to deliver efficient and optimal patient care.

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