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Dan Shapiro, PhD to Speak on Healthcare Workforce Retention at AHHA Conference

Updated: Jul 5, 2022

AHHA is looking forward to welcoming Dr. Dan Shapiro, Ph.D. as a keynote speaker at its 2022 annual conference in September. In his presentation, Improving Retention and Reducing Burnout: A Systematic Method to Assess and Intervene with Your Healthcare Workforce, Dr. Shapiro will describe misconceptions about burnout and turnover. He will share a data-based, systematic method for identifying friction points for healthcare workers and list the types of interventions that can improve retention based on those findings.

Dr. Shapiro is the Vice Dean for Faculty and Administrative Affairs at the Penn State College of Medicine and also the Garner James Kline Professor of Humanities in Medicine. After earning his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the University of Florida, he and went on to Harvard Medical School where he completed an internship and an endowed post-doctoral fellowship.

In 1996, fresh out of his fellowship focused on creating new therapeutic approaches to to help medical patients cope with serious illness, Dr. Shapiro started treating medical patients as a clinical psychologist. A former cancer patient himself, he felt well prepared, personally, and professionally, for that work. His practice was going well when a surgeon who had referred him patients came to see him for treatment.

He was initially surprised, given the seniority of the physician, but took him on. The surgeon did a courageous piece of work in treatment, and then referred a few of his colleagues. Within months, his practice was full of health professionals. By then the concept of burnout was well established and it was clear that many of these health professionals had the hallmark signs of emotional numbing, depersonalization, and a lack of sense of meaning in their work.

In 2003, Random House published his landmark narrative about one of his physician-patients, Delivering Doctor Amelia, about her painful descent into burnout, which received broad attention. Around the same time, through a leadership role in an integrative program at the University of Arizona, Dr. Shapiro started conducting day-long intensive wellness seminars for physicians, which were successful in the short term, but when he followed-up to assess the long-term effects months later, he found to his dismay that the realizations and improvements had been short lived.

Instead of working with individuals, Dr. Shapiro reasoned that working with systems might be more effective. In 2012, he launched DES Health consulting and, with colleagues, has built a successful boutique consultancy that now works with multi-hospital health care systems to reduce burnout, and improve retention and wellness. His firm’s clients include some of the largest and most successful systems in the United States including Mass General Hospital, Allegheny Health, and University California San Diego.

As systems have needed additional services, the firm has grown capacity to provide 360’s, executive coaching, and developed a unique “Embedded Civility” Liaison program to improve relationships on troubled units.

Dr. Shapiro’s writings about the patient experience, the stresses of practice, and physician patient relationships have appeared or been featured in the New York Times, the New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, Academic Medicine, NPR’s All Things Considered, and the Today Show. He was also a consultant to the ABC hit television shows "Grey's Anatomy" and "Private Practice." He has co-starred on-camera in three television series on National Geographic, A & E, and the Discovery Channel.

In addition to Delivering Doctor Amelia, Shapiro has written two other books. Moms Marijuana, about his personal cancer experience, (It has now been translated into Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish and Italian), and And in Health which was released in May, 2013 and featured in the New York Times soon after. It won a National Book Award from the Independent Book Publishers of America in 2014 (Gold Medal).

Visit the AHHA 2022 Annual Conference event page to learn more and to register today!

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