Physician burnout is at its highest level in history. According to a recent study in the American Journal of Medicine, physician-reported burnout increased significantly from 45.5 percent in 2011 to 54.4 percent in 2014. These numbers are also significantly higher than that of the general workforce population. While over half of physicians are experiencing burnout, the typical percentage of those in other workforce sectors experiencing this type of stress remains under 30 percent.
Michael Ferrandino, MD, Associate Professor of Surgery, was aware of these statistics and decided to be proactive about his own self-care and wellness.
“I started running four years ago because I was unhappy with my fitness level and the negative impact that could have on my health and wellbeing,” said Ferrandino. “One day, I stepped out the front door and I haven’t stopped running since.”
On October 7, 2018, Ferrandino will lace up his running shoes to compete in the Chicago Marathon, his third marathon to date. He generally finishes within the top five percent of his marathons and half-marathons, and has set a goal of qualifying for his first Boston Marathon (update at the end of article).
Following directly on the heels of Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, Ferrandino is also using the Chicago Marathon as an opportunity to raise awareness for prostate cancer research by running in honor of his grandfather and father, who both fought against prostate cancer.
“We know that obesity and family history are risk factors for prostate cancer, so I combat these risk factors by staying healthy and active,” said Ferrandino. “I have a strong family history of prostate cancer, so I think of my father, grandfather and children with every mile that I run.”
Ferrandino believes that his marathon training also enables him to proactively combat the burnout that inflicts many physicians in his industry.
“Running allows me to stay focused and set my mind for the day. If you read studies of physician burnout, you’ll notice that being active and setting goals are recommended ways to combat the stress,” explains Ferrandino. “I don’t just run for exercise – I run to set goals, to have an objective to complete. Finding the time to run a few miles invigorates me, it sets the tone for the rest of the day and keeps my mind on track.”
In total, he will have trained 18 weeks for this marathon. On his surgical days, he typically trains in-between cases, running a certain number of miles in between scheduled surgeries throughout the day.
“Between my work as a prostate cancer surgeon, academic professor, and researcher and my time with my family, there isn’t a lot of free time leftover,” explains Ferrandino. “I run whenever I can fit it in, sometimes that is in-between my surgical cases and other times it’s an early Saturday morning around Al Buehler Trail before family activites.”
Congratulations to Dr. Ferrandino on qualfying for the Boston Marathon with a time of 3 hours, 8 minutes and 58 seconds (03:08:58).
Many thanks to Dogwood Creative for the video production for this story.