Current Bulletin

  • How to Recognize Burnout in a Fellow Physician

    This story was originally published on the AMA Wire

    Physician burnout is distressingly common, yet when you see a colleague struggling you might not be sure what to say or do. Knowing what to look for and how to respond can make a huge difference to a struggling colleague.

    Whether you are in a small practice, hospital or health system, here is how to recognize and how to respond to physician burnout in a colleague.

    Pay attention to those around you

    When physicians are burned out, they noticeably go from happy and inquisitive to rushed and indifferent. As a result, both the patient and physician suffer.

    “It’s a tough job. It’s hard work. Everybody is going to be down at some point in time and it will often feel like you’re barely keeping your head above water,” AMA member Kevin Hopkins, MD, said in an interview with AMA Wire®. “When you’re struggling to keep your head above water, make sure you are looking for people around you, because you will notice co-workers — and even partners and physicians — who are drowning.”

    Look to others around you. Changes in personality, such as making less eye contact or asking fewer questions, are often signs of depersonalization and fatigue. If left unaddressed, they can lead to inattentiveness and indifference — neither of which improve patient care or physicians’ experience.

    “If you are only concerned about keeping your own head above water, you’re never going to throw them a line to help them when they’re drowning,” said Dr. Hopkins, a family physician and medical director at the Cleveland Clinic Strongsville Family Health and Ambulatory Surgery Center in Strongsville, Ohio.

    “Be aware of your surroundings, be aware of the mood, the level of burnout of the people with whom you work most closely,” he added. “And when you see someone is in trouble, do something about it.”

    Watch out for cynicism 

    The strongest sign of burnout is when a physician feels that nothing she does will make a difference. Watch out for physicians who might display an increase in biased comments about patients and the ineffectiveness of treating them.

    Physician burnout comes with a sense of despair, hopelessness and isolation. While that can be intimidating when you spot it in a colleague, the first response can be basic.

    “It is amazing what a difference just being kind and treating people with respect makes,” Dr. Hopkins said. “Treat other people the way you would want your mom treated.”

    Approach a fellow physician with empathy and let them know you care about them or have noticed they are struggling.

    Exhausted by their profession

    No one is expected to be upbeat all the time, but there is a big difference between being tired at work and being exhausted by your profession. Too often, Dr. Hopkins hears from patients who have gone to see another physician and report, “He has no personality” or “He didn’t answer any questions.”

    Those can be signs of burnout. Physician burnout might begin with exhaustion, but it can lead to something worse if not identified. Unfortunately, early in training, physicians often learn that seeking help is a sign of weakness — it is not. Reassure your colleague that asking for help is a sign of health and recommend they speak with their family, other physicians or even seek professional help.

    Sara Berg is Senior Staff Writer for AMA Wire

    The North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) has worked to raise awareness of the issues surrounding physician burnout and offers resources. Check out our physician wellness page on our website as well as the resources offered by the NC Physicians Health Program (NCPHP).

  • Funding Opportunity for Innovative Health Care Ideas

    From smartphones to smart cities, our communities are being transformed by technology. But are these shifts helping some people more than others? And how can we ensure new and emerging technologies increase the opportunity for everyone in America to live a healthier life?

    Do you have a cutting-edge idea to help us answer these questions? The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is looking to award $2 million for projects that will examine how emerging technologies could transform infrastructure in ways that improve health equity in the United States.

    The Foundation is seeking proposals for what they have termed Pioneering Ideas.

    “The Pioneering Ideas Brief Proposal opportunity reaches beyond incremental changes to explore the ideas and trends that will influence the trajectory and future of health. Ultimately, we support work that will help us learn what a Culture of Health can look like—and how we can get there,” the RWJF explains on its website.

    The proposals are due Oct. 17. Learn more.

  • Dr. Lawrence To Retire As Leader of ACOG

    Hal C. Lawrence, III, MD, recently announced he will retire as Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) effective Oct. 31, 2018.

    “On behalf of our Executive Board, we sincerely thank Hal for his contribution and commitment to ACOG over the course of his career,” said ACOG Immediate Past President Haywood Brown, MD. “Under Hal’s leadership, ACOG has had numerous important accomplishments, including creation of the Council on Patient Safety in Women’s Health Care and the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health (AIM), development of ACOG’s Global Operations Advisory Group and immunization expert workgroup, and creation of the Women’s Preventive Services Initiative (WPSI). The Board is committed to conducting a thorough search to identify the right candidate to guide ACOG into its next chapter of success. Until the search is completed, the Board has asked ACOG President Lisa Hollier, MD, to serve as interim Executive Vice President and CEO,” continued Dr. Brown.

    Dr. Lawrence has had a long and outstanding career serving ob-gyns and their patients. From 1979 to 2007, Dr. Lawrence was a practicing obstetrician-gynecologist in Asheville, North Carolina, where he held many leadership positions. Dr. Lawrence joined the ACOG staff in 2007, and in 2011 he was selected as Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer.

  • In the News

  • Learning Opportunities

    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will offer a New Medicare Card Open Door Forum tomorrow, Thursday Sept. 13, beginning at 2 p.m. Please dial-in at least 15 minutes before call start time. The conference leaders will be Lois Serio (Office of Information Technology) and Jill Darling (Office of Communications). To participate by phone: Dial: 1-800-837-1935 & Reference Conference ID: 7692637. For the Open Door Forum DF schedule updates and E-Mailing List registration, visit


    Throughout the fall, NC DHHS is offering training to help you understand the state’s Advanced Medical Home model as the primary vehicle for delivering local care management at the transition to Medicaid managed care takes place. Learn more about the upcoming statewide webinars as well as the regional training forums and register.


    The Sixth World Congress on Ultrasound in Medical Education: New Sounds/New Horizons will be held Sept. 13-16, at the Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem. Learn more and register.


    MAHEC is offering two courses to help treat patients with opioid use disorders: “Providers’ Clinical Support System: Buprenorphine Office-Based Treatment for Opioid Use Disorders, The “Half and Half” Course,” and “Recovery Within Reach: Building Team Expertise in Office-Based Opioid Treatment (OBOT).” The next session will be held Sept. 28. Learn more and register.


    Registration is now open for NC Healthcare Information and Communication Alliance’s (NCHICA) 24th Annual Conference, Oct. 8-9 at the Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, NC. The conference provides an opportunity to learn about the latest developments and best practices in health care IT and network with your peers. The theme of this year’s conference is “Start Your Engines! The Race to Digital Health,” and the agenda includes four plenary sessions and 24 breakout sessions. Learn more and register.


    The 30th Annual Fall Foliage Cancer Conference will be held Oct. 12-13 at the Omni Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa in Asheville, NCLearn more and register.


    The National Academy of Medicine will host a scientific symposium as part of its 48th Annual Meeting at the historic National Academy of Sciences building in Washington, DC on Oct. 15. This year’s symposium will examine how the biology of cancers creates challenges for therapeutics, explore insights about the possible prevention of certain cancers, and discuss how to include policy in the fight against the disease. Check out the meeting highlights and register today!


    First annual Raab Multidisciplinary Cancer Symposium: Melanoma – Surgery, Immunotherapy and Beyond, on Oct. 26, at the Eastern Area Health Education Center, 2600 W. Arlington Blvd., Greenville, NC. The purpose of this symposium is to provide comprehensive and state of the art evidence-based data from each discipline involved in the care of a specific disease site. Featuring the insight of nationally recognized leaders from all disciplines combined with regional experts in the field, the focus of this year’s conference is malignant melanoma. Learn more and register.


    Registration is open for The Southeast Institute for Innovation in Palliative and Supportive Care at the University of Alabama will hold the Forging the Future of Palliative Care Summit 2018 on Nov. 1-2, in Birmingham, AL. Learn more and register.


    Join current and future academic medicine leaders in Austin, TX Nov. 2-6, for the Association of American Medical Colleges Learn Serve Lead 2018. The conference brings together diverse stakeholders—medical school deans, hospital CEOs, university and hospital administrators, faculty physicians, scientists, researchers, physician residents and students—to advance new ideas by working and learning together. Learn more and register.


    The Governor’s Institute inaugural fall conference Addiction Medicine Essentials will be held Nov. 16-17 at the Archie K. Davis Conference Center in RTP/Durham. The conference will cover a wide range of essential addiction medicine topics including AM 101, Pharmacotherapy, Pain & SUDs, Medical and Psychiatric Co-Morbidities and more! Up to 11.25 hours of CME pending. Learn more and register.


    Spaces are still available for the 2018 AMPAC Campaign School, Dec. 6-9 at the AMA Office in Washington, DC. The school is targeted to AMA members, their spouses, residents, medical students and medical society staff who want to become more involved in the campaign process. Deadline to register is September 21! Learn more and register. Questions? Contact the AMA at


    NCTracks has Computer-Based Training (CBT) courses on a variety of topics available to providers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year. Anyone who is a registered user with NCID access to the NCTracks secure Provider Portal can access and take a self-paced course. A list of courses available can be found here and under Quick Links on the NCTracks Provider Training page of the public Provider Portal.


    MAHEC, working with the North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians, The Governor’s Institute on Substance Abuse and Project Lazarus: A Project of CCNC, is offering A Guide to Rational Opioid Prescribing for Chronic Pain, an online education course. The course is designed for all prescribing health care practitioners who are interested in an overview of the rational prescribing approaches for persons with chronic pain disorders. It will fulfill the North Carolina Medical Board’s requirement of at least one hour of continuing education designed specifically to address prescribing practices for chronic pain management. The course cost is $15 for the first 6 months. Offers 3 hours of AAFP, AMA/AAFP Equivalency, and CDE;


    Save-the-Date for the Governor’s Institute’s 10th annual spring conference Addiction Medicine 2019 to be held in Asheville, NC on March 21-23 when we will take a deeper dive into all things addiction medicine!






  • NCMS Joins in Move-To-Value Summit

    As a long-time supporter of the move-to-value in health care, the North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) was an enthusiastic participant in the recent Move-to-Value Summit in Winston-Salem put on by CHESS for the fifth year in a row.

    NCMS’ Senior VP for Health System Innovation, Melanie Phelps, JD, moderated a panel on “Moving Beyond the ‘Non-Compliant’ Patient – A Patient-Centered Approach for Improving Health.” The panelists included Adam Zolotor, MD, of the North Carolina Institute of Medicine, Jeremy Schifberg, founder of The Health Initiative, which seeks to address patients’ social needs as a standard part of health care delivery and Val Atkinson, a retired professor from NC Central University with expertise in patient advocacy and education.

    The session focused on factors other than access to medical care that have a significant impact on health and health care costs. The panelists explored barriers that patients face in attaining healthy lifestyles and complying with prescribed treatment regimens, and offered tools and resources to help address non-medical factors that impact health. Overall, the presentation offered insights into approaches and techniques that can be used to achieve better outcomes for the patient, including concepts like shared decision-making and goals of care, motivational interviewing, health literacy, unconscious bias and social determinants of health.

    “At the end of the day, I hope that this session challenged those in the audience to think about patients as partners in their health, and how we can all be advocates for patients in identifying and helping to remove barriers to health—at the federal, state, local and practice levels,” Phelps said.

    The panel generated such interest that it will be presented again on Dec. 3 in Greensboro at the Piedmont Triad Area Agency on Aging’s ‘Remarkable Integration’ conference. Watch your Bulletin for more details on this meeting.

    Other presenters included Patrick Conway, MD, CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina who reiterated the insurer’s commitment to value-based care. He highlighted BCBSNC’s announcement earlier this year that they were investing $50 million in community health initiatives, with $15 million focused on social determinants of health, $15 million on primary care, $10 million on child development and $10 million on the opioid crisis.

    Emtiro Health’s CEO, Kelly Garrison’s presentation, ‘Transformation Starts with a “C”’ focused on the importance of health care culture, whether in a large hospital system or a small, one-provider practice. Garrison argued that if we truly want to see a transformation in health care then it must start with a culture change, meaning payments must be based on quality or treating the “whole” person by integrating mental and physical health at the system, provider and payer levels.

  • Friday is the Deadline for HCLM Applications

    Health Care Leadership and Management (HCLM), a program of the North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) Foundation’s Kanof Institute for Physician Leadership (KIPL), is accepting applications for the incoming class of 2019 until this Friday, Aug. 31, so please get your application in now! Download the application form (PDF) or apply online.

    HCLM helps physicians develop literacy in skills beyond their medical training; skills that involve managing systems, strategic planning and effectuating institutional change.

    Here is what the program offers:

    • A critical framework based on economics, finance and leadership development;
    • An in-depth opportunity to better understand yourself and other in order to work more effectively with others and foster change;
    • Leadership and management tools and strategies to help you progress to the next level in your career;
    • Highly interactive sessions – mainly taught by physician colleagues – that offer the most beneficial environment for learning and networking.

    Graduates of the program say it has helped them better understand and assume leadership roles in their own practices and in organized medicine.

    As recent graduate Scott Paviol, MD, said: “If you’re looking to be an agent of change in medicine going forward, I highly suggest this program. You will not regret it!”

    To learn more visit the KIPL website. Questions? Please contact Kristina Natt och Dag,

  • LEAD Conference – Get the Early Bird Rate!

    Don’t miss the North Carolina Medical Society’s (NCMS) LEAD Health Care Conference, which will be held Oct. 18-19 in Raleigh. Thanks to our line-up of stimulating speakers addressing the issues that matter most to you and your practice, you will leave the conference feeling inspired and renewed – and with up to 10.25 hours of CME!

    The early bird registration rate expires on Sept. 10, so register today and join us in Raleigh in October.  And, plan on having some fun, too. In addition to the dinner and dancing at the landmark Angus Barn pavilion on Thursday evening and a gala celebration dinner on Friday evening, you may want to consider staying on Saturday to enjoy the North Carolina State Fair.

    Learn more and register today!

  • Welcome to the NCMS Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine!

    The North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) is thrilled to welcome the faculty and associated physicians of the Campbell University Jerry M. Wallace School of Osteopathic Medicine to our member community. We look forward to meeting you in person at our events and sharing the benefits of membership with you.

    “Thanks to the visionary leadership of Campbell University, your students and your faculty can now more fully understand the power and value of NCMS membership,” said NCMS CEO Robert W. Seligson. “We value all our members. The membership benefits we offer — from award-winning leadership development programs to advocacy to being a regulatory watchdog — assist everyone in achieving what is best for the medical community and the patients of North Carolina. We look forward to working with Campbell to accomplish positive and innovative goals for health care in our state. Welcome!”

    For those NCMS members who may have a connection to Campbell, would like to rub shoulders with Campbell’s osteopathic alumni or just play in a fun golf tournament, Campbell’s Office of Alumni Relations invites you to register for the Campbell Medicine 4th Annual Golf Classic on Friday, Sept. 14 at Keith Hill Golf Club in Buies Creek. Learn more and register.


  • Deadline Nearing for NCMS Award Nominations

    Each year the North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) recognizes a physician and a layperson who have made significant contributions to health care. Do you know someone deserving of such an award?

    Now is the time to nominate an outstanding colleague for the E. Harvey Estes, Jr., MD, Physician Community Service Award or the John Huske Anderson Award.  These awards will be presented at the LEAD Health Care Conference on Oct. 19 in Raleigh.

    The E. Harvey Estes, Jr. MD, Physician Community Service Award recognizes the many and varied services rendered by physicians to their communities apart from their practice of medicine.  The recipient must be a physician licensed in North Carolina; must not have received the award previously; and must have compiled an outstanding record of community service, which, apart from his or her specific identification as a physician, reflects well on the medical profession.

    Nominations must be received by Sept. 17, 2018. You may send the completed nomination form by scanning it and emailing it to Evan Simmons,, faxing it to her attention at 919-833-2023 or mailing it to her at P.O. Box 27167, Raleigh, NC 27611. If you have questions, please contact Evan via email or by calling 919-833-3836 x147. Download the form here.

    The John Huske Anderson Award is given annually to a layperson whose contributions have had a positive impact on the medical profession and public health. The award honors Mr. Anderson’s service to medicine and the Society, having served as NCMS legal counsel from 1937 until his retirement in 1983. Nominations must be made by an NCMS member.

    The deadline for submissions is Sept. 17, 2018. You may send the completed nomination form by scanning it and emailing it to Evan Simmons,, faxing it to her attention at 919-833-2023 or mailing it to her attention at P.O. Box 27167, Raleigh, NC 27611. If you have questions, please contact Evan via email or by calling 919-833-3836 x147. Download the nomination form here.