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Addressing Burnout Among Medical Assistants – Healthcare Experience Matters Podcast

February 3, 2022

Timothy Seay-Morrison, EdD, LCSW, co-author of the research article called, Factors Affecting Burnout Among Medical Assistants, joins our Healthcare Experience Foundation (HXF) partners for the Healthcare Experience Matters podcast this week to discuss the study.

Dr. Seay-Morrison’s article appeared in the Journal of Healthcare Management. He sat down with our podcast to discuss the issue of burnout among medical assistants, and he shared forward thinking ideas for addressing burnout overall.

With Stanford Health Care in Palo Alto, California, Dr. Morrison is Executive Director of Ambulatory Care and Service Lines.

Dr. Seay-Morrison has a background as a social worker and he has held a variety of positions in healthcare. As an accomplished healthcare executive and strategic thinker, he brings his positive energy and enthusiasm to today’s discussion for a truly informative chat.

There is an established amount of research dedicated to burnout among physicians. It is a major topic of discussion throughout healthcare, but what about medical assistants?

“There’s a lot of literature about the increasing burnout among physicians in our world. I think a lot of people are very familiar with that, but nobody had studied medical assistants,” Dr. Seay-Morrison said.

Listening to this interview about burnout’s impact on medical assistants is a great starting point to learn about ways organizations can better manage physician burnout.

“Having enough medical assistants to support the physician workforce, which is not growing, is really critical to the future of public health,” he said.

As we learn, there was hardly any research dedicated to this topic, despite how vital medical assistants are to the healthcare experience. Studying how medical professionals cope with the rigors of their profession is a major theme of this podcast.

“The data showed us that medical assistants had higher professional fulfillment and lower burnout than physicians,” he said.

Studying burnout among medical assistants is of major importance when exploring issues that can significantly impact the patient experience. This is especially true at a time when healthcare institutions are grappling with record levels of turnover and resignations.

“Medical assistants are one of the fastest growing fields, and most organizations can’t recruit fast enough,” Dr. Seay-Morrison said.

In discussing the top takeaways from the research, we learned there are many admirable coping strategies that are utilized by the medical assistants studied in this article.

“We probably should have entitled the study ‘professional fulfillment among medical assistants,’ because they showed us that they’re quite professionally fulfilled,” he said.

The research showed medical assistants have effective coping strategies.

“When they’re feeling stressed, they take walks, breaks and they rely on family and friends. They pray, and they don’t engage in destructive coping strategies,” Dr. Seay-Morrison said.

As we worked towards wrapping up the interview, Dr. Seay-Morrison dove into important information about ways intuitions – especially folks in leadership positions – can address burnout.

“I really feel like this was a great opportunity to validate the importance and success of medical assistants in our workforce,” he said.

Learn More

Click below to listen to the podcast, and you can learn more about Dr. Seay-Morrison’s article in the Journal of Healthcare Management.