Preventing and managing burnout among psychiatrists in the United States is a national priority. Telepsychiatry is a promising web-based modality for the delivery of psychiatric services that has the potential for reducing burnout rates. However, it may also be associated with certain occupational challenges such as social and professional isolation, which may impact telepsychiatrists’ performance and well-being. Therefore, it is important to develop ways to enhance retention rates of telepsychiatrists and reduce their risk of burnout.
In this study, we examine approaches implemented by a telepsychiatry organization between 2018 and 2019, as part of a strategy to enhance the job satisfaction, engagement, and well-being of telepsychiatrists. This article describes the development, implementation, and outcomes associated with this strategy.
Individual and organizational-level outcomes showed overall higher job satisfaction, higher retention rates, and higher output rates over the period in which the strategy was implemented compared with previously, which translate to increased access to mental health care services for patients and imply a reduced risk of burnout among telepsychiatrists.
Given the risk for social, professional, and academic isolation among telepsychiatrists, organizational engagement efforts are advisable, feasible, and may be associated with significant improvement in satisfaction and retention among telepsychiatrists. Our findings have important implications for enhancing the performance and job satisfaction of telepsychiatrists and potentially reducing burnout rates in this population of providers.
Effective strategy efforts included: (1) enhancing and standardizing recruitment efforts to ensure proper matching of the psychiatrist with organization, site, and patient population; (2) ensuring congruence between the individual’s and the organization’s values; (3) providing support for nonclinical administrative tasks; (4) maintaining professional and social communication, support, and supervision via multiple channels.