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On Sound Medicine: A Look At Unhappiness Among Doctors And Patients

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Sound Medicine program for June 22 includes segments about how medical students prevent future burnout in medicine; how physicians can spend more time with patients; purchasing material items and happiness; and more.

How can medical students preserve their passion for medicine? A group of IU medical students organized the workshop "Finding Inspiration and Resilience in Medicine," after learning of the overwhelming unhappiness among doctors reported in the 2012 Physician’s Foundation’s “Survey of American Physicians." According to the study of 13,575 physician participants, 60 percent would retire today if they could afford it; 77.4 percent were somewhat or very pessimistic about the future of medicine; and 58.3 percent rate morale as somewhat or very negative. The daylong workshop was held April 25 at Eskanazi Hospital, and Dr. Lotte Dyrbye of the Mayo Clinic was the keynote speaker. 

How can physicians spend more time with patients, and less time with administrative tasks? Christine Sinsky, MD, an internist at Medical Associates Clinic and Health Plans, says more doctors should be working at the "top of their license." In a recent blog, Sinsky wrote that 70-80 percent of what doctors do can be done by assistants and clerical staff.

Why does one physician-journalist believe the next generation of doctors are more prepared than the last? Dr. Danielle Ofri, author of the book "What Doctors Feel," speaks on the range of emotions and struggles faced by physicians, and why current medical students are prepared for the challenges in the ever-changing medical profession. Dr. Ofri is a 20-year internist at Bellevue Hospital; an associate professor of medicine at New York University School of Medicine; and editor-in-chief of Bellevue Literary review.

Can people buy happiness? Dr. Ryan Howell, an associate professor and the director of the Personality and Well-Being Lab at San Francisco State University, studies how financial factors influence our happiness. Dr. Howell also oversees BeyondthePurchase.org, a website that offers quizzes and tools to help people assess their perceptions of happiness and money.