Rediscovering Joy in Primary Care Practice

Published on April 30, 2015 by

With numerous studies indicating that half of primary care physicians in the U.S. suffer from burnout, yesterday’s Maine Quality Counts learning session for Patient Centered Medical Home and Health Home practices was particularly timely. During the one day session at Bangor’s Cross Insurance Center, 250 primary care practice team members gathered to learn how to rediscover joy and purpose in their work – a key protective factor against burnout.

Morning keynote speaker Andrew Schutzbank, MD, MPH, VP for Clinical Development at Iora Health, identified at least five major barriers to joy in primary care, like chaotic patient visits, poorly designed Electronic Health Records, poor teamwork and an inordinate amount of time doing documentation. Schutzbank followed up with a number of solutions based on the 2013 article he co-authored in Annals of Family Medicine, In Search of Joy in Practice: A Report of 23 High-Functioning Primary Care Practices, including:

  • sharing care with a team,
  • establishing clear communication with daily team huddles and co-location, and
  • systematic pre-visit planning and workflow mapping.


Three conference tracks and 20 breakout sessions explored topics tailored to practices working on meeting Patient Centered Medical Home core expectations and introducing regular screenings for substance abuse, depression and child development. Care management was a hot topic along with family/patient engagement and behavioral health integration.

The next Patient Centered Medical Home/Health Home learning session, to be held at multiple sites around that state on June 5th, will explore the theme of “Resiliency: Surviving and Thriving in Primary Care.”


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