Board of Governors: The BOG is a lifeline

July 2018 – Vol. 37, No. 6

Boris Chernobilsky, MD
Vice Chair, BOG Governance & Society Engagement Committee

Whenever we travel by airplane, the take-off safety instructions tell us to secure our own oxygen mask first, then assist the child or other person next to us. I use this analogy whenever I am talking to patients who find themselves overwhelmed in the position of chief caregiver to their loved ones. But it also applies to our profession. How many of us actually stop and heed those words in our busy lives, as we try to balance direct patient care, documentation, administrative tasks, family, and our own needs?

Boris Chernobilsky, MD

Why am I bringing this up in a Bulletin issue focused on patient safety? Because nothing is more central to good, safe patient care than a physician who is at the top of their game—engaged, knowledgeable, capable, and compassionate.

Unfortunately, physician well-being continues to be a major issue. In a recent, large Medscape survey1, 42 percent of all physicians reported burnout. Otolaryngologists as a group reported the same percentage. Many felt that this led to errors and harm to their patients. Dissatisfaction with work also leads to high physician turnover, which then becomes an access issue for patients. Patients are often negatively impacted by the loss of their doctor, especially one who knows their conditions intimately and has stood by them through their worst experiences.

While there have been efforts to alleviate physician burnout, two major factors seem to make the most impact: perception of leadership and activities outside of direct patient care. One particular study from Mayo Clinic demonstrated 50 percent variation in satisfaction among physicians based on their administrator’s leadership scores. Another study showed significantly improved burnout rates when physicians were provided private areas and time to congregate, collaborate, and otherwise interact on a daily basis.

The Board of Governors (BOG) helps Academy members avoid burnout in precisely the ways the literature bears out. First and foremost, the leadership of the BOG (and our Academy) has by and large been exemplary. These are busy otolaryngologists who volunteer their time and expertise with no motive other than to improve their and your professional lives. They work tirelessly to track legislation, fight for RVUs, support state and specialty societies, and maintain the flow of information between members and Academy leaders. They protect the interests of their members on guidelines, on task forces, at the state legislative level, and on Capitol Hill.

On the second point, the BOG provides Academy members with both time and a place to engage each other outside of clinical care. Formal events include the BOG General Assembly and committee meetings at the national AAO-HNSF Annual Meeting and AAO-HNS/F Leadership Forum & BOG Spring Meeting, the latter of which is entirely free to attend. (We even had free CME credit for attendees.) These events provide the perfect mixture of information about what is going on at the state and national levels; education about practice management, wellness, and diversity; and even a venue to socialize informally after the meeting. Mentorship opportunities abound, and everyone is happy to help.

The BOG also helps state and specialty societies coordinate and thrive, allowing otolaryngologists these same opportunities on a state and local level. These activities are critical to alleviating feelings of personal and professional isolation.

As one of our committee leaders stated at the Leadership Forum this year, “the BOG is a lifeline” to the greater world of otolaryngology outside of your practice. So, take time out for yourself, put your oxygen mask on first, and please come join us. Engage the leadership, be revitalized interacting with your colleagues, and empower yourself by becoming a leader in the BOG!