Advocacy Champions

Ashok-PatelNovember 2021 Advocacy Champion

Liselotte (Lotte) N. Dyrbye, MD, MHPE, FACP

Mayo Clinic

  • [Assistant Dean, Faculty Development, Mayo School of Graduate Medical Education
  • Director, Academy of Educational Excellence
  • Co-Director, Program on Physician Well-Being
  • Professor of Medicine and Medical Education
  • Consultant, Division of Primary Care Internal Medicine]

1. Why is being an advocate so important to you?
We know from our two decades of research that burnout is prevalent among physicians, is caused by work-related stressors, and negatively impacts quality and safety of care, productivity, and access to care.  On a personal front, physicians with burnout are more like to have substance use disorders and suicidal ideation.  Solutions to the epidemic of burnout lies in system-level solutions – we need to work together to redesign health care so that the needs of patients, their families, and our healthcare professionals are met.  Doing so is critical for patients to receive the best possible care from compassionate, committed physicians.

2. What health-care related issue(s) have you advocated for over the past year?
Our research supports that the MN licensure initial and renewal application question in its current form is a barrier to physicians seeking help for emotional/mental health problems. The question is not aligned with recommendations from the American Medical Association, the Federation of State Medical Boards, or the American Psychiatric Association. I am deeply concerned about the mental health of our physicians, particularly during these trying times.  Preliminary research supports that the prevalence of depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation is dramatically increased, especially among frontline COVID workers. It is imperative that we do all we can to remove barriers to physicians accessing care for treatable problems, such as depression and prolonged stress reaction.

In early 2021, I partnered with the MMA, Mayo Clinic, Allina Health Systems, Great Lakes Chapter Div. the American Academy of Emergency Medicine, Minnesota Psychiatric Society, Minnesota Medical Association, Physicians Serving Physicians, and Twin Cities Medical Society to encourage the MN BMP to change the medical licensure application question on mental health.  Our suggested language was: “Do you currently have any condition for which you are not being appropriately treated that impairs your judgment or that would otherwise adversely affect your ability to practice medicine in a competent, ethical and professional manner? (Yes/No)”.  After a year of advocacy work, we have been successful.  Starting in 2022, the MN BMP medical licensure question will now focus on current impairment from any health condition.

3. What advice would you offer to others who are interested in advocacy?
Be persistent and collaborate.  It takes time, data, and partnership with like-minded individuals to move the needle.  With ongoing effort, we can make a difference – and doing so is critical for the well-being of our colleagues and the patients for whom they provide care.

Past Advocacy Champions