• July 2019

    Leadership development as a unique tool to fight burnout in women physicians

Through a grant from The Physicians Foundation, Baylor Scott & White Health is establishing interventions to address burnout of female physicians through networking, leadership development and mentorship.

According to a 2018 survey of nearly 9,000 physicians by The Physicians Foundation, 85% of female physicians and 74% of male physicians sometimes, often or always feel burned out. While actively investing in provider well-being has been an important initiative for Baylor Scott & White for several years, the need to provide opportunities specifically for female physicians became acutely apparent through national survey results and feedback from our internal physicians.

Championed by Baylor Scott & White physician leader and gastroenterologist Dawn Sears, MD, FACG, a half-day Women Leaders in Medicine Summit was hosted in Central Texas in fall 2017 for female physicians. The momentum from that Summit and data-driven need to fight burnout in women physicians led to the awarding of the two-year grant from The Physicians Foundation to support the continuation of those efforts. Baylor Scott & White now has a robust offering of Women Leaders in Medicine Summits held twice a year in both our North and Central Texas divisions, quarterly regional dinner groups, embedded opportunities to establish mentorship relationships, IRB-approved research, and other efforts underway, all with following goals for female physicians:

  • Encouraging local networking and support
  • Building leadership skills which are often assumed
  • Allowing mentorship and advocacy relationships with practice leaders

As we see the shift in the tide and women physicians emerging as leaders within our organization, a secondary goal is that organizations across the country feel emboldened to develop and invest in their female physicians, who represent half of the new physicians being added to practices nationally.

The Program

The program includes a robust menu of activities for female physicians:

  • Women Leaders in Medicine Summits
  • Research
  • Dinner Clubs
  • Mentorship
  • SharePoint and Facebook Sites
  • Program Blueprints


Of our nearly 1000 female physicians at Baylor Scott & White Health, 38.7% of our central Texas female physicians have participated in one or more of the four Central Texas Women Leaders in Medicine Summits to date and, 25.6% of our North Texas female physicians have been reached through the two North Texas Summits held. These numbers exceed our goal of reaching 25% throughout the system by the conclusion of the grant and are expected to continue to grow with our planned programming.


In terms of the impact of the Summits, 93% or more respondents have ranked the Summits with a 4 or 5 (5 = extremely impactful; 0 = not at all impactful). Participants provided open-ended responses on how they believe the group serves them either personally or professionally. Top comment categories included support/networking with other physician women, ideas for burnout, leadership skills, empowers me, makes me feel supported, and fuels passion to pursue leadership in the future. Of the female physicians who have participated in the WPSN, 79% of the women participating rated it as a 4 or 5 in terms of impact (5 = extremely impactful; 0 = not at all impactful).

Of the 108 surveys collected at the Women Leaders in Medicine Summit in North and Central Texas in April 2019, 87% of the women reported feeling burnt out several times a year, monthly, weekly or daily, with 36% of those feeling burnt out weekly or daily. When asked if they feel the BSWH Women Leaders in Medicine program helps prevent burnout, 85% of attendees rated it as a 3 or higher (5 = most definitely, 0 = not at all).

Once the 18-month survey is complete, we will be able to explore the differences and associates of the program on women physicians with different employment models, age, external burnout forces and independent leadership training activities. This will allow us to measure predictive factors of initial burnout as well as which activities (internal and external offerings) that participants engaged in had the best recovery from or resilience from burnout. We will also evaluate if there has been an increase in leadership roles of the females who have participated in the programming.