Wellness resources available to Texas physicians
By Gracie Awalt, Marketing Associate
Experiences of stress and burnout are a serious concern for Texas physicians. Those who experience “stress” are characterized by feeling like they have too many responsibilities, but are still maintaining a level of control. In contrast, those who report feelings of “burnout” believe they do not have enough time or effort to give, and have no control over the sources of burnout. 1
A national Mayo Clinic study found that 45% of resident physicians experienced at least one symptom of burnout, correlating with high levels of anxiety and low empathy during medical school.2 A 2016 study published in General Hospital Psychiatry surveyed female physicians nationwide, and 50% thought they met the criteria for a mental illness but had not sought treatment.
Some believed they could manage the illness themselves. Others felt shame or embarrassment, or were reluctant to report their illness to a medical licensing board.3
Texas physicians, residents, and medical students should consider taking advantage of the mental health resources provided by their county medical societies and the Texas Medical Association (TMA).
TMA Physician Health and Wellness Committee
Any TMA member can use the resources provided by the TMA Physician Health and Wellness Committee. This committee creates online courses, toolkits, and free wellness exercises for health care professionals and students.
Online Continuing Medical Education (CME) courses are free to TMA members and cover physician health topics ranging from addictive behavior, stress and burnout, spirituality, work-life balance, and setting professional boundaries.4
Since 1961, the Physicians Benevolent Fund has been available to physicians who need financial support to treat depression, substance abuse, or other conditions impairing wellness, as well as assistance with household expenses. After filling out a confidential financial questionnaire, a committee reviews the request for approval.5
If you are interested in helping others, you can donate to the Physicians Benevolent Fund, or you can join the PHW Education Team. This team leads live CME sessions for physicians and nonphysicians.6
The toolkits posted on their webpage consist of blog articles containing advice on a variety of wellness topics. Each post links to relevant and available CME courses.7 The committee also gives free one-hour live educational presentations for medical students and residents.8
Additionally, TMA provides a list of helpful links to toolkits, modules, scales, surveys, and inventories created by outside national institutions and sources.9
You can also call their Knowledge Center at (800) 880-7955 with any questions.
County Medical Society Resources
Although TMA provides resources to a broad audience of physicians, some county medical societies provide additional resources that may serve as examples of efficient work methods to help reduce stress.
Bexar County Medical Society provides their members with a 30-day free trial of BetterHelp, the largest online counseling platform worldwide. Physicians can use a smartphone, tablet, or laptop to chat live through messages or face-to-face video conferences with Texas-licensed and credentialed counselors and therapists.10
Harris County Medical Society maintains a list of recreational activities available to member physicians and their families at a discounted rate.11 Their website also provides guides for buying products and services for practices, and a career center with job opportunities in the Houston area.
Travis County Medical Society (TCMS) offers a confidential coaching program for members and their spouses. To connect with a counselor, physicians call a 24-hour support line available on their website. Biographies of the counselors are also provided on the site. 12
TCMS also leads social events for members, such as yoga sessions, open-mic storytelling, and weekend retreats.13 The Physician Wellness Blog provides an anonymous place for members to share their thoughts on their experiences in medicine.14
1. What every physician needs to know: Combating physician stress and burnout. Resource Hub. Texas Medical Liability Trust website. Available at https://hub.tmlt.org/physician-stress-and-burnout/combating-physician-stress-and-burnout. Accessed March 2, 2020.
2. Nellis B. Nearly half of resident physicians report burnout. News Network. Mayo Clinic website. September 18, 2018. Available at https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/nearly-half-of-resident-physicians-report-burnout/. Accessed March 2, 2020.
3. Gold KJ, Andrew LB, Goldman EB, et. al. “I would never want to have a mental health diagnosis on my record”: A survey of female physicians on mental health diagnosis, treatment, and reporting. General hospital psychiatry. September 2016. Available at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/308276183_I_would_never_want_to_have_a_mental_health_diagnosis_on_my_record_A_survey_of_female_physicians_on_mental_health_diagnosis_treatment_and_reporting. Accessed March 4, 2020.
4. CME courses. Texas Medical Association website. Available at https://texmed.inreachce.com/SearchResults?searchType=1&category=1c8e8284-a477-4d37-a06e-2b4bb27bb1c7&sortBy=recentlyadded#page-2. Accessed March 4, 2020.
5. PBF Wellness Fund. Texas Medical Association website. Available at https://www.texmed.org/hope/. Accessed March 4, 2020.
6. Physician Health and Wellness Speaker Form. Texas Medical Association website. Available at https://www.texmed.org/FormProcessorResponsive.aspx?ekfrm=48972
7. Physician Health and Wellness Plugins. Texas Medical Association website. Available at https://www.texmed.org/wellnessplugins/. Accessed March 4, 2020.
8. Free Educational Live Presentations Flyer. Texas Medical Association website. Available at https://www.texmed.org/uploadedFiles/Current/2016_About_TMA/Physician_Assistance/Free%20Education%20Program%20Flyer.pdf
9. Helpful Links. Texas Medical Association website. Available at https://www.texmed.org/Template.aspx?id=50982. Accessed March 4, 2020.
10. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) BetterHelp – Online Counseling. Bexar County Medical Society website. Available at http://www.bcms.org/lifebridge/faq/FAQsAboutOnlineTherapyBetterHelp.pdf
11. Discounts for HCMS Members. Harris County Medical Society website. Available at https://www.hcms.org/tmaimis/HARRIS/Membership/Discounts_for_Members.aspx
12. Meet Our Counselors. Travis County Medical Society Physician Wellness website. Available at https://www.tcms.com/tmaimis/Travis/Physician_Wellness/Meet_Our_Counselors/Travis/Physician_Wellness/Confidential_Coaching.aspx?hkey=bbfb40d7-85f8-4b38-b95b-a07ab6a13da6
13. Local Events, Programs, Connections. Travis County Medical Society Physician Wellness website. Available at https://www.tcms.com/tmaimis/Travis/Physician_Wellness/Local_Events/Travis/Physician_Wellness/Local_Events.aspx?hkey=d4829099-afd3-4aa4-b6db-aaadb7f1387c
14. Physician Wellness Blog. Travis County Medical Society Physician Wellness website. Available at https://www.tcms.com/tmaimis/Travis/Physician_Wellness/PWP_Blog/Travis/Physician_Wellness/PWP_Blog.aspx?hkey=284a788e-3ec3-4d4e-b902-99135f04ed17. Accessed March 4, 2020.
Gracie Awalt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.