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Physician Wellness

Tarrant County Physician Wellness Program: Addressing Burnout and Promoting Resiliency

by Casey Green, MD

THE TARRANT COUNTY MEDICAL SOCIETY IS launching a new wellness initiative available to medical society members and their families. We recognize the challenges associated with an ever-changing landscape in healthcare exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic that contribute to stress, burnout, and job dissatisfaction.

Modeled on the successful program at Travis County Medical Society, the Tarrant County Medical Society Wellness Program seeks to proactively address those among us who may be struggling. We have a mission to enhance the health of physicians, their families, and the communities in which we all live and work.

Physician burnout, the apparent catalyst to this situation, is considered a psychological response that may be experienced by doctors exposed to chronic situational stressors in the healthcare practice environment. It is often characterized by overwhelming exhaustion, feelings of cynicism and detachment from work, and a sense of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.1

Physicians experiencing burnout, according to the medical literature, exhibit a wide array of signs, symptoms, and related conditions, including fatigue, loss of empathy, detachment, depression, and suicidal ideation. Nearly 25 percent of physicians surveyed last year were experiencing clinical depression. There were also significantly increased rates of depression among their family members.2

The most cited reasons for burnout include too many bureaucratic tasks, decreasing autonomy, increased work hours, and recent additional contributing factors related to COVID-19. Of those physicians experiencing burnout, more than half report it is strongly affecting their daily life and more than two thirds acknowledge impairments in relationships.2

Physicians often have to deal with difficult and tragic situations and losses. This continued exposure to human suffering can have a significant impact on mental and emotional wellbeing over time that often goes unrecognized.

Burnout is not always related to stressors arising in a work environment or to an individual’s character traits. Family issues, personal and professional relationships, financial pressures, insufficient work-life balance, or other external stressors may also contribute. Efforts aimed at the identification, treatment, or prevention of burnout must, therefore, approach the issue from a broad enough perspective to take all of these factors into account.

Too many physicians are reluctant to seek help for fear that they will be perceived as weak or unfit to practice medicine by their colleagues or employers, or because they assume that seeking such care may have a detrimental effect on their ability to renew or retain their state medical license.

The TCMS Wellness Program has developed relationships with community therapists who work with physicians or their family members to help them back on the path to wellness. These services will be confidential and paid for by this program for the first four sessions for any members or their families.

The goal of this new initiative is to provide information and resources to support physicians and their families in order to encourage and inspire each other to practice physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social wellness. The program is in its final formation steps, and we hope to meet these needs with workshops, mentorship, education, and other activities to promote healing, growth, and resiliency. We are excited about the future and will share more details as the program grows.

You can find more information about how to access the program at or call 972-449-0762.


1. Maslach, C., Jackson, S.E. (1981). The Measurement of Experienced Burnout. Journal of Occupational Behavior, 2(2):99-113. See also, Maslach C, Jackson SE, Leiter MP. (1996). Maslach Burnout Inventory Manual. 3rded. and Maslach C, et al. (2001). Job Burnout. Annu Rev Psychol, 52:397–422

2. Kane L. ‘I Cry but No One Cares’: Physician Burnout & Depression Report 2023. Medscape. Published January 27, 2023. Available at:

TCMS Gold-Headed Cane

Nominations Open for 2023

Gold-Headed Cane recipient, Dr. Gregory Phillips, and Dr. Susan Bailey at the 2022 Event.

Nominations for the 2023 Gold-Headed Cane Award, which is given annually to an outstanding TCMS member who has made a significant impact on our medical community, are now open.

A nominee must have been a TCMS member for at least 15 years and be a current TCMS member in order to be considered for the award. The list of members who are qualified is available here.

All current TCMS members are eligible to nominate one candidate for this award. You can submit a nomination or learn more about it here.

All nominations must be received by May 12, 2023.

Public Health Notes

Health Equity Through a Public Health Lens

by Catherine Colquitt, MD, Tarrant County Public Health Medical Director, and Yvette M. Windgate, ED.D.

This article was originally published in the March/April issue of the Tarrant County Physician.

As we turn the page on 2022 and our “tripledemic” surge recedes, let’s take a moment to reflect on health equity and disparities through the crucible of COVID-19.

Healthy People 2030 defines health disparities as “a particular type of health difference closely linked to social economic, and/or environmental disadvantage.” It further asserts that health disparities “adversely affect groups of people who have systematically experienced greater obstacles to health based on their racial or ethnic group, religion, socioeconomic status, gender, age, mental health, cognitive, sensory, physical disability, sexual orientation or gender identity, geographic location, or other characteristics historically linked to discrimination or exclusion.”1 Our collective goal is health equity, described by Healthy People 2030 as “the attainment of the highest level of health for all people.” Achieving health equity requires valuing everyone equally, with focused and ongoing societal efforts to address avoidable inequalities, historical and contemporary injustices, and the elimination of health and health care disparities.”1

In the early 2000s, U.S. Surgeons General began to issue reports on disparities in tobacco use and access to mental health care based on racial and ethnic demographics. Since those ground-breaking reports, issues including infant mortality, pregnancy-related seats, chronic disease prevalence, and overall measures of physical and mental health have been examined through the prism of health equity. Part of the impetus of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was to provide strategies for securing access to healthcare for traditionally underserved groups. Impactful gains were made in numbers of persons insured and access to higher quality care. However, those gains were somewhat eroded in the former presidential administration by cuts to funding for AVA navigators and outreach efforts, and the authorization of state waivers, which allowed some states to decline Medicaid expansion by instead offering their own wavers.

COVID-19 further impacted healthcare coverage losses through lost jobs and wages, resulting in increasing economic hardships, housing difficulty, and food insecurity, disproportionately affecting Black and Hispanic workers, especially those in essential in-person jobs (i.e., transportation, manufacturing, grocery, pharmacy, retail, warehouse, food processing, and healthcare). Due to healthcare workforce shortages and operational changes (e.g., video clinic visits requiring patients to have internet access), these same groups also experienced challenges to healthcare access.

During COVID-19, certain groups (i.e., Alaskan Native, American Indian, Black, and Hispanic individuals) experienced higher death and illness rates than their White or Asian counterparts, likely due in part to their work in essential jobs, higher prevalence of preexisting comorbidities for poor COVID-19 outcomes, use of public transportation, and crowding at work or home.

Additionally, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s survey data (The Undefeated), Black adults are more likely than White adults to report certain negative healthcare experiences, such as a provider not believing them, or refusing a test, treatment, or pain medicine the patient believed he or she needed. the Undefeated survey data revealed that Black and Hispanic individuals were less likely to have been vaccinated against COVID-19 as of April 2021. While vaccination rates against COVID-19 have risen on all ground, the gaps between White, Asian, Black, and Hispanic demographic groups have not narrowed. The effect of the health disparities laid bare by COVID-19 has been profound and predated the pandemic. For example, in 2018, the average life expectancy was four years lower in Black individuals than in White individuals, with the lowest life expectancy in Black men. That unfortunate trend continues today. In Tarrant County, the 76109 zip code in Fort Worth, a majority White neighborhood, holds a life expectancy of 82.4 years. Nearby 76104, host to historically Black neighborhoods, like Morningside, has a life expectancy of 66.7, and it is even lower for Black men at 64 years.

What can we do to address these disparities and improve the health of our county and county? The Biden administration has prioritized initiatives aimed at addressing health disparities at the federal level through several executive orders and proclamations. Locally, Tarrant county Public Health (TCPH) has created a Community Health Equity and Inclusion (CHEI) division to promote health literacy and address health equity issues concerning county residents, with the greater goal of decreasing health disparities and inequities in Tarrant County. The CHEI division educates residents and public health professionals regarding health disparity and inequity issues and engages community partners (i.e., Fatherhood Coalition of Tarrant County, Mental Health Connection of Tarrant County, My Health My Resources of Tarrant County, United Way of Tarrant County, and Brave/R Together) to find solutions that promote diversity and health equity.

TCPH continues to collaborate with community partners on annual events, such as the African American Health Expo, the North Texas Wellness Fair, and the Senior Synergy Expo. We are also participating in community celebrations, school events, and COVID-19 testing and vaccination pop-up clinics. Recently, TCPH and fifty-sic agencies- including hospital systems, institutions of higher education, city and county governmental entities, charitable organizations, and faith-based organizations- have joined forces as the Tarrant County Unity Council. This council’s purposes are:

  • To identify and address health equity challenges for those disproportionately affected.
  • To build, leverage, and expand fair resource allocation to safe, affordable, and accessible health, housing, transportation, and communication that advance racial equity and address other inequitable social conditions, with the purpose of reducing or eliminating health disparities and health inequities.


  1. Health Equity in Healthy People 2030,
  2. L Hamel et al, Kaiser Family Foundation: Key Findings from the KFF/Undefeated Survey on Race and Health 10/2020
  3. Life Expectancy by ZIP code in Texas,
  4. Tarrant County Public Health, Family Health Services, Community Health Equity and Inclusion, Community Involvement,–community-outreach/previoud-activities.html?linklocation=Button%20List&linkname=Community%20Involvement
  5. Tarrant County Unity Council,–community-ooutreach/tarrant-county-unity-council.html



This article was originally published in the March/April issue of the Tarrant County Physician.

HISTORICALLY, STIGMA AGAINST MENTAL HEALTH, ACCESS to care, and discrimination contribute to worsened health outcomes. This is especially true for certain racial or ethnic groups such as those made up of Black and Hispanic individuals, as there are culturally negative views on mental health symptoms and/or treatment, a fear of mistrust of the medical community due to historical discrimination or mistreatments, or lack of access to mental health services.

To help address this, the Lay Mental Health Advocates (LMHA) program was created. This free, virtual training program is designed to teach laypersons the fundamentals needed to advocate for someone who is dealing with mental illness. LMHA focuses on teaching mental health advocacy by understanding how social determinants worse mental health and play key roles in overall health outcomes for marginalized communities. The social determinants of health are defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as “the conditions in the environments where people are born, love, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks.”

LMHA began as a volunteer project during my time as a research trainee at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases before beginning medical school. In addition to conducting experiments in a traditional laboratory setting, I was a fellow of the National Institutes of Health Academy. This program allowed me to meet other trainee scientists equally as passionate about patient advocacy. Ultimately, the goal of this program was to implement a volunteer project that addresses health disparities in the local community.

We saw a need for interventional programs to fill the mental health gap that is particularly prevalent among marginalized communities. Our program consists of a weekly online workshop led by psychiatry residents or attendings from Duke University Hospital and local community leaders. they include interactive role-playing advocacy practice, case study reviews, and other informative components. Our eight-week-long program was modeled after the Johns Hopkins Medicine Lay Health Advocate Program and the Mental Health Allyship Program. Through LMHA, advocates can identify several different mental health conditions, gain a greater understanding of the factors that exacerbate health disparities, understand how to provide effective emotional support, and gain confidence in the role they can play in the lives of their community members by BEING mental health advocates.

The pilot program took place during Spring of 2021, and we had 100 participants whose ages ranged from 18-58. We are now on track to our third workshop series, with participants from across the county. In addition to that, we are currently expanding our team, working on our non-profit application, and establishing a volunteer program to work with the Duke Behavioral Health Inpatient Unit.

Watching this program grow beyond anything my team had imagined has been very rewarding. I wanted to share this journey with those of you reading to encourage you to continue advocating for yourself, your patients, and your community. If you ever see a problem that needs to be addressed or a gap that needs to be filled, just go for it- you never know what may come of it.