Fighting and Reducing Stressors in Cardiology

May 18, 2021
Kevin Kunzmann

A survey at ACC 2021 showed 38% of cardiology professionals were burnt out during COVID-19. What factors in the field have already made it difficult to cope?

Earlier this week, investigators presented cardiology professional survey findings showing burnout in the field had reached 38% during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Presented at the American College of Cardiology (ACC) 2021 Scientific Sessions by Laxmi S. Mehta, MD, vice chair of Wellness and director of Lipid Clinics at The Ohio State University, the findings highlighted key issues including lacking emotional support, basic working needs, and inadequate personal protective equipment (PPE) as drivers of cardiology-related burnout.

That said, the 1288-participant survey did not source COVID-19 every mental health burden associated with cardiology practice. In fact, many of the field’s most common stressors were only exacerbated by the pandemic.

In the second segment of an interview with HCPLive, Mehta discussed the drivers of cardiology burnout—including a greater embrace of telemedicine which needs to be refined to assure leniency for physicians.

“The access that patients have in terms of sending messages, these new wearable devices and sending that information, does impede our workflows,” Metha said. She added that even colleagues have excessive access to professionals as well: “The line of day and night, family time and personal time, days and weekdays, just blur.”

Mehta also discussed the loss of personal escapes from work in medicine—including even the ACC annual meeting, which many see as a destination event that encourages socialization and networking throughout the lectures and sessions.

“For many of us, part of our burnout antidote is actually going to the meeting and seeing our friends from across the globe, and connecting with them,” she explained.

Explaining that “you don’t know there’s a problem until you measure it,” Mehta called on health systems to encourage transparency from its staffs on wellness and burnout, without threat of professional retribution. She also encouraged her colleagues to speak up and assure the changes put in place to reduce burnout are conducive to wellness, and not just simply short-term fixes.

“What’s problematic is that we’re losing people, but we’re also not funneling people in, because if you’re burned out you’re less likely to recommend a career in cardiology,” Mehta said. “So we need to make this a sustainable field as well.”


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