Retaining doctors and reducing burnout through a flexible work initiative in a rural South African training hospital

African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine

Field Value
Title Retaining doctors and reducing burnout through a flexible work initiative in a rural South African training hospital
Creator Schaefer, Rachel Jenkins, Louis S. North, Zilla
Subject — part-time posts; resilience; burnout prevent; training; flexible work; retention
Description Background: South African doctors work up to 60 h per week to ensure 24-h service delivery. Many doctors are physically and emotionally exhausted, neglecting families, self-care, patient empathy and innovative thinking about complex health issues. Exposure to clinical work hours demonstrated a dose effect with burnout, suggesting cause and effect, affecting up to 80% of doctors. To retain good doctors, their complex needs must be recognised and allowances made for flexible work options.Taking a risk: George Hospital, a large regional training hospital in a rural district, converted some full-time medical officer posts to part-time posts. This was in response to doctors’ requests for more flexible work options, often after returning from maternity leave or in response to burnout. Perceived risks revolved around institutional resource security and that part-time post vacancies would be difficult to fill.Reaping the benefits: Employing doctors in part-time posts has created stability and continuity in the health team. The hospital had generated a cohort of young professionals who care with empathy and have emotional resilience to train others and plough their skills back into the healthcare service.Conclusion: Reducing working hours and creating flexible options were concrete ways of promoting resilience and retaining competent doctors. We recommend that training and work of doctors be structured towards more favourable options to encourage retention, which may lead to better patient care.
Publisher AOSIS
Date 2021-03-23
Type info:eu-repo/semantics/article info:eu-repo/semantics/publishedVersion — Opinion paper
Format text/html application/epub+zip text/xml application/pdf
Identifier 10.4102/phcfm.v13i1.2799
Source African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine; Vol 13, No 1 (2021); 5 pages 2071-2936 2071-2928
Language eng
Coverage Africa; South Africa; Western Cape; Garden Route District; George sub-district 2016-2020 —
Rights Copyright (c) 2021 Rachel Schaefer, Louis S. Jenkins, Zilla North