M.D. Anderson docs unhappy with working conditions, patient safety

A year after doctors at University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center complained about their workload and patient safety issues, a physician survey shows the concerns remain.

Among the findings, according to the Houston Chronicle:

  • Two-thirds said changes by executive leadership had not improved morale over the last six months
  • Six out of 10 were unhappy with expectations for clinical productivity over the same time period
  • Half disagreed with the idea that executive leadership is open to faculty ideas and recommendations

Additionally, only four out of 10 said they were satisfied or very satisfied with improvements in patient safety, the Chronicle reported, and a majority said they're worried about pressures to increase patient volume.

"We see this as a work in progress, since we know it takes time for significant change to permeate through an organization as large and complex as M.D. Anderson,"  Raymond Greenberg, M.D., executive vice chancellor for health affairs, wrote in a letter to faculty also published by the Chronicle.

With hospitals like M.D. Anderson looking for ways to improve physician engagement and satisfaction, some draw inspiration from sources including Max Weber, the so-called father of modern sociology.

A Weber-inspired framework for engaging doctors outlines suggestions including:

  • Creating a shared purpose with opportunities for doctors to share stories of good patient outcomes
  • Offering both financial and nonfinancial incentives for reaching goals
  • Using peer pressure to drive performance
  • Appealing to a sense of tradition by establishing distinct, constant standards

A survey released this summer showed that doctors are more likely to be satisfied at work when they feel engaged. To feel engaged, doctors must:

  • Feel their skills and competency are respected
  • Believe their opinions are valued
  • Have good peer relationships
  • Achieve a good work/life balance
  • Have a say in how their time is structured and used
For more information:
- read the Chronicle article
- here's Greenberg's letter
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