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Noback-Burton lecturer discusses physician challenges during COVID pandemic

The challenges of being a physician during the time of COVID-19 are nothing new to medical professionals said Kevin Churchwell, M.D., president and chief executive officer of Boston Children’s Hospital. The ongoing pandemic has increasingly brought those issues to light.

Churchwell delivered his remarks to faculty and staff of the UMKC School of Medicine as the keynote speaker for the annual Noback-Burton Lectureship held virtually on Dec. 9.

He outlined four particular challenges physicians have faced that include information overload, dealing with shift work, time commitment and finding an adequate work-life balance.

“I hope you realize that it’s not just in a time of COVID that these challenges are presented to us,” he said. “These are challenges that have faced us since the beginning of time. It’s really a challenge of how do we continue to see medicine as a profession.”

At the children’s hospital in Boston, Churchwell said, leaders have addressed the issues by creating the Boston Children’s Hospital academy for teaching education, innovation and scholarship. It is a program that explores how to help physicians, practitioners and residents with the information overload, while promoting excellence in innovation and offering mentorship and support to help with career development.

“No matter what, in the time of COVID or outside of COVID, I believe the issues that we’re facing now are the issues that we will continue to face,” Churchwell said. “The solution will be to start by treating medicine as a profession.”

The Noback-Burton Lecture series is endowed by James Riscoe, M.D., ’75, a member of the school’s third graduating class. Riscoe started the event in 2016 to honor Richardson K. Noback, M.D., the first dean of the School of Medicine, and the late Jerry Burton, M.D., ’73, a classmate who is recognized as the first graduate of the medical school.