A few years ago, Dr. Trzeciak was facing burnout as a health care provider and knew something needed to change.
As a person who loves research, he began to dig into related literature and studies that focused on combating burnout in providers. In medical school, he said, he was taught that caring too much and having too much compassion could cause a provider burnout more quickly. What he found in studies, however, painted a different picture.
“What the literature shows is that there is an association with compassion and burnout – but it’s inverse. If there’s high compassion, there’s low burnout. Why? Well, we don’t know for sure but I have my hypothesis,” Dr. Trzeciak said. “Because when you connect with people through compassion, and have a relationship that flows from that, you get the fulfilling part. If you don’t have that then all you have is a really stressful job.”
Key to Resilience is Relationships
He tested his hypothesis on himself, as a study subject of one and found that when he leaned into caring more rather than detaching, his feelings of burnout began to lift. It wasn’t just about connecting with and showing compassion to patients and families, but to everyone he worked with and interacted with—professionally and personally. He believes this method can work not only within health care but in every walk of life.
He challenged everyone who is feeling the effects of burnout to give his method a chance, not just because it has worked for him and helped change his life, but because it is backed by science.
He highlighted a Harvard University study that tracked students at the university and Boston-area teenagers throughout their lives and found the best predictor of good health and well-being into your 80’s is your midlife quality of relationships. Dr. Trzeciak said this and many other studies show that the key to resilience is relationships.
“That’s why it is vitally important in our health systems, in our medical schools, everywhere – at the shopping mall, at the grocery store – that we take good care of each other,” Dr. Trzeciak said. “You don’t have to be a health care provider to feel burnout, especially in 2021.”
Compassion in Health Care
Compassionate and caring environments not only help team members face less burnout, but also help patients see better outcomes.
During his lecture, Dr. Trzeciak discussed many studies pointing