PABP INVESTIGATION: Wood-Fired Morale Boosting in Healthcare

The proof is in the cardboard box…just look how happy this group of workers is since they now have pizza! Burnout be gone!

Most of you probably associate us at The PA Blueprint with our ground-breaking work on career optimization for PAs and other medical professionals. While that remains our primary focus, we’ve also started an investigative journalism side of our business*, with the aim to look into some of the misunderstood and often overlooked aspects of working in healthcare.

Our first assignment has been to tackle one of the most ubiquitous and ridiculous medical marvels: The use of pizza parties as a morale booster for burned-out staff. We’ve all been privy to situations where just when we seem to be hitting the depths of despair, our healthcare administrators step up and call in some carb-loaded reinforcements. But, as medical professionals, we wanted to take a deep-dish-dive into whether the research supports this hypothesis that healthcare workers are just a slice away from turning their frowns upside down. Here’s what we found:

  • A 2017 meta-analysis done by Domino’s, et al. concluded that pizza was in fact considered to be the gold standard treatment for healthcare-associated burnout*. (Of note is these findings have been called into question due to potential conflict of interest.)
  • An article entitled “From Jaded to Jovial: Tools to Improve Your Employees’ Morale” from the Spring 2013 edition of the Journal of Healthcare Administrators Quarterly did strongly recommend pizza for burnout, citing it is available OTC and has a strongly associated nostalgia-response with happier times*.
  • The Cool-Whip Institute in Mini-Soda, a leader in healthcare-related burnout, has rolled out “DiGiorno Days” across their campuses, in an effort to improve employee and fluid retention*.
Even cartoon executives love pizza! Do you see any evidence of burnout here?? We sure don’t.

During our investigation into the pizza party phenomenon, we were sent an anonymous email from a whistleblower*, someone calling themself “Papa John”, and this email included a classified document of the actual menu that administrators use when ordering up some brick-oven morale. Take a look below:

But, what we really need to know is, do they also offer calzones?

We don’t know about you, but that pizza menu is both disturbing and hunger-inducing to read. (SIDE NOTE: We highly recommend trying the Resilience with the crushed “work-life balance” and a side of “living the dream” dipping sauce).

Also uncovered in our investigation were some amazing stock photos of all things pizza-related, which we felt compelled to share. (Ironically, the photos (below) that we found in researching about pizza for morale boosting actually boosted our own morale, because they are hilarious, amusing and demonstrate the versatility of this offering.)

But in all seriousness, when our employers assess that their staff are burned out with their morale in the toilet, why is it that one of the most common actions taken is to throw some pizza at us? At best, it is a superficial gesture that has negative consequences (i.e. the “undesired effect” item on the menu above), and at worst, feels like a condescending and misguided slap in the face.

Putting all jokes and our #fakenews reporting to the side, the experts in burnout, such as Tait Shanafelt, do not list “spontaneous pizza party” as one of the ways to promote engagement nor reduce burnout. So why is this such a universally-adopted burnout mitigation strategy? We really don’t know, nor could we find any solid information as to why so many are gluttons for gluten. Nonetheless, our research led to the conclusion that we we should expect that the pizza-for-smiles exchange that seems to be the default will remain so, and that it will stay baked into the culture of healthcare for many years to come.

The recipe for workplace satisfaction starts with dough, sauce and cheese.” Anonymous

*denotes ridiculous and totally false statements, aka #fakenews

DISCLAIMERS: 1) The views expressed here are our own and do not necessarily represent the views of our employers. 2) We don’t know what we don’t know, so feel free to message us if you don’t agree with something that you read. 3) We do have affiliate agreements with companies, so by clicking on our links and making any purchases, we may earn some money on those generated sales.

KEYWORDS: #thepablueprint #humor #pizza #pizzaparty #healthcare #burnout #fakenews