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Symposium Ignites Efforts to Prevent Doctor Burnout


Experts gather before American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference & Exhibition in Chicago to examine strategies that promote physician health and wellness and ensure the best care possible for children.


CHICAGO – Leading experts will gather in Chicago before the 2017 American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference & Exhibition to explore strategies to promote physician health and wellness, which translate into better care for children.

The Pediatrics for the 21st Century symposium, "Pediatricians Leading Change in Physician Health and Wellness," will take place on Friday, Sept. 15. The event leads into the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) 2017 National Conference & Exhibition.

In the keynote address, "Caring for Ourselves to Care for Children," Johns Hopkins Children's Center pediatric residency program director Janet Serwint, MD, FAAP, will describe decades of pediatrician-led efforts to address the wellness challenges physicians face, such as on-call schedules that leave little time for sleep, and stress from rising administrative and societal barriers to providing patients care they need.

Calls for change are now gaining attention across the profession, Dr. Serwint said, after a compilation of studies showing high rates of burnout and depression among medical students, residents and practicing physicians, along with the 2014 deaths by suicide of two medical residents in New York City within a week of each other. An estimated 300 to 400 physicians die by suicide each year in the United States.

"We want to give doctors the tools they need to put wellness strategies into action for themselves, their practices and their organizations," Dr. Serwint said. "The goal is to move beyond survival mode and thrive at what we do best and what we enjoy -- caring for patients."

The symposium will feature a panel discussion and other presentations, including:

•           "The Culture of Health Care: How We Are Making Ourselves Unwell," by Hilary McClafferty MD, FAAP;

•           "Wellness, Burnout, and the Link to Quality Care," by David Schonfeld, MD, FAAP; and

•           "Recognizing Burnout in Yourself and Colleagues," by Carol Bernstein, MD.

Dr. Schonfeld, a professor at the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work and Pediatrics at the University of Southern California and Children's Hospital Los Angeles, says physician wellness benefits both doctors as well as their patients. Research suggests health care providers reporting fatigue, exhaustion and other symptoms of burnout also report making more errors, he said. In addition, patients report more dissatisfaction with the health care provided by doctors who are experiencing burnout.

Symposium presenters will recommend both individual and system-wide strategies, such as screening for burnout, ensuring doctors have input into institutional decisions, and forming partnerships with community resources.  Other strategies include providing support for time-consuming administrative tasks such as electronic medical record charting and managing insurance authorizations and appeals, which take physicians away from direct patient care.

"If I'm working late charting electronic health records or bills," Dr. Schonfeld said, "that feels different than staying late helping families and doing what I've been trained and gone into medicine to do."

The symposium will place 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15, in room W375 of McCormick Place West in Chicago. News media must first register in the NCE Press Office, located in the Grant Park CD room of the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, to receive a press badge.

To view the full Peds21 list of speakers and topics, visit,. The symposium will also include original research abstracts during a poster session from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Highlights include: 

  • Depression Among Resident Physicians and its Effect on Patient Care
  • Wellness, For Residents - By Residents
  • Improving Pediatric Resident Wellness through Group Counseling Sessions

For more information on the symposium, or for media access to research abstracts under embargo, contact the AAP Department of Public Affairs at 847-434-7877, or at From Sept. 15-19, public affairs staff are available in the press office in room Grant Park CD of the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, or by phone at 312-528-8210.


The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 66,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit