Physician burnout analyzed

Burnout is more common than depressions or substance abuse among physicians. Common features are “emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and a decreased sense of personal accomplishment.” Symptoms include: physical exhaustion, sleep disturbances, headaches, anxiety, depressions, cynicism, guilt, ineffectiveness, poor judgment, treating patients and co-workers as objects and feeling emotionally depleted. The causes are well known to most physicians and include: lack of autonomy, problems balancing work and home, high patient volume pressures and too many administrative tasks. Almost 40% of U.S Surgeons suffer from burnout and 32% exhibit high emotional exhaustion and a quarter show depersonalization. It is interesting that ¾ Surgeons would opt to become Surgeons again but only ½ would recommend medicine to their children. 9% of Surgeons reported that they had made a major medical error in the last 3 months! 
Comment: We all recognize that we have had some of these symptoms at one time or another during our careers. If you don’t you are in denial. Fortunately, we pull out of the cycle with the help of our spouses and family. Burnout has consequences for our patients. So, it’s not just a personal issue but a safety issue for the public. Note: This material is taken from Balch CM & Shanafelt T. Combating stress and burnout in surgical practice: A review in Advances in surgery. 44 (2010) 29-47