Behavioral Health Conference Addresses Physician Burnout

Annual Behavioral Health Conference 2019

Englewood Health held its 14th Annual Behavioral Health Conference on March 30, entitled Wellness, Resilience, Burnout: What’s It All About?

The event was co-sponsored by the New Jersey Chapter of the American College of Physicians. The conference was well attended by approximately 50 mental health care professionals, including physicians, nurses, social workers, and psychologists.

Jo-Ann Venezia, RN, BS, MPA, Program Director, Behavioral Health , Englewood Hospital, and Jonathan Shammash, MD, FACP, Director of Medical Education, Englewood Hospital and NJ Northern Governor, American College of Physicians, welcomed the attendees and introduced the keynote speaker, Rashi Aggarwal, MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Psychiatry Residency Program Director, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. Dr. Aggarwal spoke about “Burnout in Medicine: Changing Obstacles to Opportunities.” She reviewed the available clinical evidence regarding the efficacy of interventions to combat burnout, and highlighted the need to gain cultural acceptance and institutional buy-in in order to successfully develop and implement wellness programs.

Steven Samuels, MD, Chief of Psychiatry, Englewood Health, spoke about “Physician Suicide: Warning Signs, Prevention, Education, and Treatment.” He presented important statistics around this national health crisis, noting that approximately 400 physicians take their lives each year in the US. He then emphasized, through informative multi-media content, that physicians need to seek assistance, and their colleagues need to observe for signs of depression and burnout and directly ask those in distress if they need help.

Mark Somerville, LCSW, Director of Mental Health, Hackensack Meridian Health Palisades Medical Center, recommended a team-based approach in his talk on “Resilience for Professional Workers,” and emphasized techniques for building resilience based on evidence and personal experience.

Josh Belsky, Mental Health Program Director, Hoboken University Medical Center, concluded the program by providing strategies to “Promote and Build Patient Resilience.” He spoke about how prior traumatic events compromise patients’ abilities to cope with future adversity. He recommended social supports to help patients improve their resilience, and discussed how employing active listening skills and supportive therapies can empower patients to manage future challenges with more compassion towards themselves and others.