Hospitals & Health Networks’ Lola Butcher looks at the very serious problem of burnout among hospitalists.

She notes that over 52 percent of hospitalists and nearly 55 percent of outpatient internists are affected by burnout, according to the 2014 Journal of Hospital Medicine study.

“But hospitalists differed from internists in some ways. For instance, hospitalists were more likely to have low scores on one key symptom of burnout: personal accomplishment. But hospitalists and outpatient internists had similar scores on emotional exhaustion and depersonalization, which are other common symptoms.”

Ms. Butcher writes: “The causes of burnout among hospitalists — and the actions needed to prevent or mitigate burnout — vary from one hospital unit or department to the next. But there are a few burnout contributors specific to hospital medicine that health system executives should investigate,” says Danielle Scheurer, M.D., chief quality officer at Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

“A root cause of burnout among hospitalists, in her view, is an ever-expanding list of responsibilities.”

”’They can be in situations where they end up being the jack of all trades — the pharmacist and the case manager and the social worker,’ says Dr. Scheurer. ‘They don’t necessarily have the skills and competencies to be great at those things, and it takes away from their core background skills and competencies.”’

Dr. Scheurer suggests simple ways to help  stem burnout, such as:  “Let’s create a whiteboard or a chat room in the medical record so the hospitalist can address nonurgent things as opposed to getting paged every 10 to 15 minutes.”