Pandemic heightens focus on physician well-being

This issue also covers gender equity in medicine, COVID-19 vaccination, and sleep in the elderly, among other topics.


Physician well-being, already an area of concern before COVID-19, has been stretched to the breaking point by pandemic-related challenges. Increased workload, PPE shortages, practice closures, and concern about contracting the virus are only a few of the things physicians have had to deal with since last March. ACP and other organizations have been looking for ways to help. In our cover story in this issue, we examine peer support programs, in which physicians sharing the same experiences offer guidance and a listening ear.

Our second cover story addresses gender equity in medicine via coverage of the Women in Medicine summit, held virtually last October. At the summit, which featured a keynote address by ACP's CEO/EVP, Darilyn V. Moyer, MD, FACP, speakers discussed efforts toward greater parity, as well as ways in which COVID-19 could be affecting this area as it has so many others. Advice was offered on how to continue to bridge this gap, how to manage finances, and how men in medicine can be allies in equity efforts.

Also, a Q&A related to both cover stories outlines perspectives from ACP well-being leaders about burnout among physicians in general and women physicians in particular. Before the pandemic hit, a survey of internists and internal medicine trainees who participated in ACP's Well-being Champions Program found that 52.1% reported symptoms of burnout, but 71.9% also reported career satisfaction. Of note, burnout rates were higher in female versus male physicians. In the Q&A, three study coauthors talk about what their findings mean, what can be done to address them, and how the goalposts regarding burnout may have changed during COVID-19. (In other COVID-19 news, an article summarizes the second vaccine forum recently sponsored by ACP and Annals of Internal Medicine, which offered advice for physicians on promoting vaccine confidence and uptake.)

Additional conference coverage in this issue is from CHEST 2020, also held virtually last October. Read tips from the co-director of a COVID-19 recovery clinic in New York City on managing patients' long-term symptoms, and learn about promoting good sleep hygiene in elderly patients. In addition, a Practice Rx column outlines the new CMS coding changes that took effect this month, while in two Perspectives columns, the President's Message explores the "Fauci effect" and the Washington Perspective details what ACP would like to see during President Joseph R. Biden Jr.'s first 100 days in office.

Last but certainly not least, we at ACP Internist wish all of our readers a happy new year and hope that 2021 will be a brighter one. Write to us any time at acpinternist@acponline.org to share your challenges and triumphs.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Kearney-Strouse
Executive Editor