Support Diversity and Inclusion to Combat Burnout

Cheri Canon
June 12, 2023

Public and media discussion of burnout is prevalent, yet most have felt no real improvement, particularly in medicine. Burnout is a complex crisis that will require intentional interventions both at an individual level and even more importantly, at a system—or organizational—level. This landscape is reminiscent of our diversity crisis in medicine and even more prevalent, in the house of radiology. It is a complex problem that will require focused interventions, particularly at higher levels of leadership. Importantly, these two, burnout and inclusion, are inversely related. Creating a culture of inclusivity which provides individuals the important sense of belonging goes a long way to mitigate burnout. Work environments should not be tolerated, rather should nurture individuals and provide a sense of safety, particularly considering we often spend more waking hours with our work colleagues than our family and friends. 

Why are we not seeing more diversity across our medical specialties—particularly gender diversity—which has seemingly been addressed in our medical schools? Literature and experience now show us that diversity, equity and inclusion are inextricably linked and must be balanced. If out of balance, the problem can be exacerbated. All too often we hear of recruiting efforts to increase diversity, yet if the inclusive environment is lacking, retention becomes the new challenge and the cycle repeats. We often cite leaky pipeline as the culprit of our diversity problems and, in many cases, it is true, but only one piece of the puzzle. Perhaps a bigger piece is at the other end of the pipe —the leadership. Diversity of leaders who in turn embrace diversity, equity and inclusion as core values is a key piece of the puzzle. 

Now more than ever, initiatives aimed at supporting a diverse and inclusive leadership are paramount. These need to be intentional and far-reaching. Then, diversity, equity and inclusion will be led from the top, supported throughout and help mitigate against the widespread burnout in our workplaces.