Physician Burnout: 6 Leaders Making a Difference

Passionate Physician Advocates

Physician Burnout Leaders 2018

Startling Suicide Rates Among Physicians

Physician Burnout is a hot topic in the medical community, and rightfully so. According to the Medscape National Physician Burnout & Depression Report 2018, forty-two percent of  the 15,000 physicians who  participated in the survey reported feeling burned out. The issue is much bigger than a highly trained doctor becoming tired of the bureaucratic charting or stressing about paying off their student loans. Physician Burnout can lead to depression, ultimately resulting in “physicians experiencing the highest suicide rate of any profession,” a Medscape headline published in May of 2017.

Sadly, one physician commits suicide every day in the United States. These startling statistics led us to find out who is leading the fight against physician burnout and depression. Here are six people who are at the forefront of the challenge. See how they are fighting to stop physician burnout.


(1) Dike Drummond, MD

Founder and CEO TheHappyMD.com

Since 2010, HappyMD.com has taught over 27,000  physicians and industry leaders simple and effective tools to understand & prevent burnout. Dike Drummond is the man behind the HappyMD.com. Dr. Drummond was a full time family practice doctor, CEO and Managed Care Medical Director for Skagit Valley Medical Center in Mount Vernon, WA, which employed 40 physicians and a staff of 120.

Today Dr. Drummond is the CEO of TheHappyMD.com, a leader in the prevention of physician burnout for individual doctors and healthcare organizations. He recently published two powerful articles on LinkedIn addressing the topic.  The first article includes the video above, a message to physicians about reaching out to colleagues who might be in distress. He followed the initial article with one titled, “Stop Physician Burnout – Treating the Symptoms Only Makes it Worse.” He explains, “The most common symptom of burnout is exhaustion from being overwhelmed in the work day. The sheer quantity of tasks in direct patient care and documentation are beyond many of the physician’s capacity on a daily basis. The burnout rate is rising exponentially because many doctors are at their “last straw moment.” One more task might drive them over the edge.”


(2) Nisha Mehta, MD

Physician Side Gigs

Nisha Mehta, MD is the founder of Physician Side Gigs, a Facebook group that has exploded in popularity among physicians. The Facebook group has over 24,000 members and 1300 in the last 30 days. Dr. Mehta fights addresses physician burnout in her writing, speaking, and Facebook group.  The radiologist wrote in the description of Physician Side Gigs- “This group is for physicians interested in pursuing opportunities outside of traditional clinical medicine either as a hobby or as a way to supplement or even replace their clinical income. We also discuss related issues about physician finance and business skills, as well as physician burnout and creating the life in medicine that you want.”

Dr. Mehta collaborated with former physician and now career coach, Michelle Mudge-Riley, to host an event for physicians in April. The Charlotte, NC event, Creating Freedom as a Physician, fostered inspiring discussions around lifestyle design, negotiation and business skills, developing side income streams, as ways to stay ahead of changes in healthcare. Dr. Mehta’s work has been featured in numerous outlets, including Forbes, PBS NewsHour, Doximity, KevinMD.com, MedPageToday, the Radiology Business Journal, the Huffington Post, Medical Economics, and Theime Medical Publishers.  She has spoken at various academic medical institutions, the White Coat Investor conference, and for private healthcare organizations and women physician groups. She is also a member of the Physician Speaking speakers’ bureau by KevinMD and sits on the advisory board of the Radiology Business Journal.


(3) C Nicole Swiner, MD

The Superwoman Complex expert/Swiner Publishing Company

Physician Burnout

Voted 1 of 10 Best Doctors in NC in 2017, Dr. C Nicole Swiner is a family physician, 2-time best-selling author, owner of Swiner Publishing Company, blogger, speaker, wife and mother in Durham. She is also affectionately known as the Superwoman Complex expert and has written two books on the topic. Dr. Swiner is one of the successful female physicians who will be speaking at the Girl Med Live conference in Dallas, Texas. In November, she will be speaking about physician burnout, focusing on how to be a super woman without being Superwomen.

Along with nine other physicians and one dentist, Dr. Swiner recently shared her story in the second volume of the book, Thinking About Quitting Medicine?. The physicians’ first volume was so well received, Swiner Publishing Company knew it needed to deliver more stories to physicians who are at a crossroads after countless hours of education, practice, etc. Dr. Swiner actively promotes positive motivation towards physician burnout across her social media channels.


(4) Rick Johnson

Happy Doc Summer Camp

Rick Johnson  is the founder of the Happy Doc Summer Camp located in Pocono Valley, PA.   He first conceived of the idea of a camp for physicians in 2015, and has been working  since then to make it a reality. His experience in event coordination and non-profit administration equipped him to address physician burnout in a unique summer camp atmosphere.

Happy Doc Summer Camp is a professional education conference offering burnout prevention and wellness programming to physicians and allied healthcare professionals. The conference curriculum is geared towards education and mental health/skills training for medical professionals to help them cope with anxiety, PTSD, depression, stress, compassion fatigue, burnout, and suicide prevention. Happy Doc’s faculty are world-class educators with diverse backgrounds in clinical practice, counseling, education, exercise, and wellness. The summer camp’s goal is to create a space for physicians to get away, focus on issues, and provide them with tools to prevent burnout, encourage workplace change, and bring a sense of joy back to their practices.


(5) Maiysha Clairborne, MD

Stress Free Mom MD

physician burnout

Founded by Dr. Maiysha Clairborne,  Stress Free Mom MD‘s has a clear mission: “to prevent physician burnout in women and moms in medicine before it starts – Showing women in medicine and Dr. Mommies that they CAN achieve a rhythm between doc life & home life and providing the tools, structures and systems to do so.” Dr. Clairborne’s repeated exposure to and experience with treating exhaustion and burnout in physicians and as well as her own struggle with burnout is what inspired her to turn her focus exclusively on physicians.

Dr. Maiysha Clairborne is an integrative family physician, an Associate Clinical Professor for Morehouse School of Medicine, and also the founder of the Mind Body Spirit Wellness and DocSupport LLC. She is a successful entrepreneur, as well as the author of The Wellness Blueprint and Eat Your Disease Away. She utilizes her experience as a doctor mom to guide others who experience similar stress and struggles in the industry.  The Stress Free Mom MD website showcases Dr. Clairborne’s specialty in doctor moms coaching, which makes her quite unique in  her approach to preventing physician burnout.


(6) Robert W. Seligson

Physicians Foundation

In July of 2018, Robert Seligson’s powerful story, Physicians Are Human Too, was published on Forbes. As an active leader in several medical organizations, Seligson saw the tragic affects of physician burnout firsthand from the shocking suicide of his long time personal physician. Following the disturbing news that his doctors office would help him locate a new physician because his has passed away, Seligson reached out to his physician’s wife. She told him that her husband had fought depression and burnout for years but, “he didn’t seek help because he was afraid the state Medical Board would take his license away.”

This tragic story has been a way for Seligson to lead the challenge against physician burnout and depression, by creating awareness about the issue. He explained, “I immediately went to my North Carolina Medical Society’s Board of Directors and got their blessing to begin truly investigating this problem.” Seligson serves as the Executive Vice President and CEO of the North Carolina Medical Society and CEO of the North Carolina Medical Society Foundation and and he also currently serves as Treasurer of The Physicians Foundation and Chair of the Finance Committee. The Physicians Foundation has been a driving force to elevate the issue of physician burnout and to promote physician wellness to a nationwide audience. Through millions of dollars in grants, the foundation has devoted resources to, “…develop evidence-based, physician-led approaches that promote resiliency, foster a culture of wellness and increase professional fulfillment.”


Rally Together to Stop Physician Burnout

We commend these six courageous leaders who are taking on the tough challenge of fighting physician burnout and depression. According to the Medscape National Physician Burnout & Depression Report 2018 mentioned above, finances are the second leading cause of physician depression. Lets continue to put a stop to this horrible issue. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a colleague who might be struggling with their job or even personal life. If you or someone you know needs help with financial stress, Spaugh Dameron Tenny can help.


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Molly Holbert

Molly Holbert | Spaugh Dameron Tenny