Harvard Macy Community Blog

Fostering the ongoing connectedness of health professions educators committed to transforming health care delivery and education.

Mohammad Zaher

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Mohammad Zaher (Health Care Educators 2.0, ’17) is an emergency physician, medical educator, and wellness coach in training. He is an international fellow of the STRATUS Center for Medical Simulation at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. You can follow him on Twitter @MohammadZaher

Well-being in Healthcare: Where are We Today?

During my attendance at the Harvard Macy Institute Health Care Education 2.0 course, I was surprised when we were asked to participate in a mindfulness exercise every morning. I must admit that I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of spending time focusing on my breathing when I could be utilizing that time to work or learn. As the course carried on, I began to realize how we, as professionals, can be so focused on outcomes that we lose track of the journey, and how it affects us. 

While healthcare providers, with their rigorous selection process and training, are expected to be resilient under significant physical and emotional stress, the numbers say quite the opposite. Levels of burnout (exhaustion of physical or emotional strength and lack of motivation) among healthcare providers are increasing every year, and have reached nearly 60% in some disciplines. Rates of provider distress (burnout, anxiety, depression, and suicide) are higher than the general population. These numbers have implications beyond the affected healthcare provider, as studies have associated providers in distress with inferior quality of care, increased errors, decreased patient satisfaction, and even increased patient mortality. 

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