Doctors Today May Be Miserable, But Are They ‘Burnt Out’?
September 18, 201812:06 PM ET MARA GORDON
It turns out, nobody really knows. The first study, a systematic review, summarizes the research to date on physician burnout. Study authors found that researchers do not use a consistent definition of burnout, and estimates of how common it is vary widely.
The second study followed doctors-in-training over six years and tracked how they felt about their work. They found that women and doctors in certain high-stress specialties were more likely to experience symptoms of burnout, like emotional exhaustion and regret about career choice.
Dr. Katherine Gold, coauthor of an editorial accompanying the JAMA studies. She says that the main questionnaire used to measure burnout wasn’t even designed for doctors. She says it’s intended for professionals like social workers and therapists, who have to cope with trauma their patients experience. My note: this is the merit of Kelsey Milne’s dissertation with SCSU EDAD program: how do we measure may be the key to the right assessment.
Burnout definition: How you define burnout is all over the map. Any time you have a diagnosis that might apply to 85 percent of the population, you wonder how useful that is. But burnout is much less stigmatized than depression. People are just more willing to say they’re burned out.People have resonated with the feeling that something isn’t right, and something is making our work really difficult. We’ve latched on to this as the word we’re going to use.
There’s talk about the solutions all being personal. The physician should be more resilient. The physician should do yoga. The physician should practice mindfulness. I think the stress that people are feeling is much more about external demands, like the electronic medical record and paperwork.
I know I feel frustrated when I get emails telling me that there’s lunchtime yoga, which of course I can’t make it to because I have too many patient charts to complete. My Note: this is part of Kelsey’s findings for educators also.
more on meditation in this IMS blog