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Thomas Bodenheimer, MD, MPH, to Offer Tips on How to Reduce Physician Burnout

August 21, 2015—The Society of Teachers of Family Medicine has invited Thomas Bodenheimer, MD, MPH, co-director of the Center for Excellence in Primary Care, to present at the Conference on Practice Improvement.

“There are not enough primary care clinicians—physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants— to meet the population’s need for primary care,” explains Dr Bodenheimer. This demand results in increased workload and physician burnout, and decreased patient interaction.

Dr Bodenheimer's solution? Engaging other health professionals in patient care through primary care teams. His talk titled “Can Primary Care Teams Simultaneously Improve Patient Access and Reduce Physician Burnout?” will include practical tips for creating a high-functioning primary care team that has other health care professionals, such as nurse practitioners and pharmacists, independently treat patients.

Dr Bodenheimer says the vital elements of the ideal primary care team are size and stability. The ideal team size is “so small so that patients know their team members, and the team knows their patients.” In prioritizing stability, “team members should always work together and not be sent from one team to another as happens in many primary care practices. Patients should always be cared for by their team.”

His ideal team pairs a clinician with a medical assistant who are then supported by a nurse, social worker, and health coach. The three support roles can assist up to three clinician-medical assistant pairs. The entire team of pairs and three support roles is co-located in one common space for easy communication. In this ideal setup, patients know their teams, and their teams know their patients.

To learn how to implement Dr Bodenheimer's solution to reducing physician burnout at your practice, attend the Conference on Practice Improvement in Dallas, TX, December 3–6. This conference is a forum for sharing examples of redesign from private practice, academic practice, and public clinics. Register for the conference at

Copyright 2018 by Society of Teachers of Family Medicine