It should come as no surprise that physicians are reporting greater levels of burnout than ever. Data from the Mindset Engine1, the Syneos Health proprietary, cutting-edge intelligence platform that aims to understand how doctors make choices, tells us that in general, 70% of all physicians are concerned with burnout and exhaustion. That number rises even higher for female physicians (80%) and physicians of color (79%). COVID-19 is an obvious contributing factor to HCP burnout, but it’s not the only one. Practices and expectations within the healthcare system itself, eternal factors like insufficient support from peers and family, and feeling compelled to combat medical misinformation can also contribute to burnout.
But what’s interesting here is that not all physicians are equally concerned about burnout. Based on data from Mindset Engine, HCPs with less than 20 years of experience in their profession feel more concerned about burnout and exhaustion overall, compared to physicians with more than 20 years of experience.
With less tenured physicians, data from the Mindset Engine offers signs that they are more aware of factors that often contribute to burnout. For example, they report:
feeling pressured to see more patients
believing that they have less time available to spend with patients
being concerned about their abilities to be empathic and compassionate with their patients
One article highlights that younger physicians have different professional needs when it comes to preventing burnout, such as job security and more downtime. Physicians with less tenure place a greater emphasis on having a predictable, stable routine, suggesting they place more priority on achieving balance to stave off burnout.
The challenge? The healthcare industry needs to shift in order to meet the expectations of HCPs with less tenure who require more balance and less stress in order to be fulfilled by their careers.
The healthcare industry is attuned to the projected US physician shortages by 2033. These shortages will challenge the need for stability and balance that younger physicians prioritize. Pharma can’t singlehandedly solve this anticipated challenge, but we can shift our strategies to prioritize the needs of less-tenured physicians when it makes sense for the market.
What pharma can do about it:
Less-tenured HCPs, like most who are earlier in their career, bring a unique set of expectations to their work. As other industries define and appeal to the motivations of less-tenured employees, pharma needs to do the same. At the end of the day, HCPs are shaped by the same cultural context and worries as anyone who is early in their career.
Pharma communicators can use these insights on less-tenured HCPs to be proactive problem-solvers by focusing on curated experiences and aligned expectations. The next time you’re planning a client engagement for a greener HCP category, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Tap into HCP experience.
We know that HCPs with less tenure are more overwhelmed. But they also feel the weight of realities like politics and legislation, being a working parent, and other collective experiences that come along with being human. Keeping your finger on the pulse will help you communicate with compassion. Stay in touch with cultural shifts that impact your audiences.
Foster peer connection.
Building communities where less tenured HCPs can share experiences will combat burnout by inspiring a strong sense of professional belonging. This can happen at in-person events that encourage restorative connections, or online through social groups rooted in expression and camaraderie.
Focus on tasks.
Being more aware of your audience’s day-to-day experience will allow you to tailor brand expressions that make engagement more empathetic and less complicated. For instance, consider creating marketing experiences that supplement patient education, or lighten the burden of combating misinformation by activating social programs that better inform patients.
Studies indicate that HCPs with less tenure are generally more compassionate than those with more tenure, but because of the current state of the healthcare industry and certain stubborn systematic barriers, they have less emotional capacity to engage. Understanding the depths of your audience demographic can lead to more informed and intuitive communication strategies, and better brand connection overall.
Syneos Health Proprietary Mindset Engine Healthcare Provider Behavioral Study 2022. The study includes 7,200 healthcare providers with a nationally representative sample of physicians in the United States by specialty including 329 Oncologist HCPs in the United States. The study was conducted utilizing an online panel of healthcare providers which fielded February 8th, 2022 through October 24th 2022. At the overall study level, the margin of error is +/- 1.2% at a 95% confidence level.