Bluegrass is one physician’s cure for burnout

A pediatric surgeon in Georgia has found his cure for physician burnout. Paul Parker, who performs surgeries at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Egleston Hospital, plays bluegrass with a group of other physicians.

Parker, who plays the banjo, is a founding member of Druid Hills Billy’s, a bluegrass band, according to the DeKalb Neighbor. The group got its start eight years ago when he and friend and colleague William Sexson, now the associate dean for clinical affairs at Emory University, stated playing music together in their spare time. They invited other physicians from area hospitals to join them and the band was born.

The doctors have taken advantage of one of the prime solutions recommended to prevent physician burnout: invest time in activities outside of the workplace. “I think having something outside of work to look forward to lowers your stress,” Parker told the publication. Parker, who keeps a banjo and guitar in his office at the hospital and plays between cases, advises fellow doctors to stay healthy by pursuing their interests outside of medicine.

Burnout is a persistent problem in the healthcare field, with one survey finding nearly half of American doctors reported a loss of enthusiasm for work, feelings of cynicism and a low sense of personal accomplishment. Hospitals are taking action to address the issue, including Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, which has promoted a Physician Wellness program to support the physical and mental well-being of its physicians. The program focuses on communication, physical activity, learning, nutrition and stress management, spokesman Erica Hinchman told the publication.