The Washington Post has an article on two new studies looking at physician burnout. One looks at burnout among young doctors, while the other underscores how challenging it’s been to study the phenomenon.
The first study surveyed a group of young doctors in their last year of medical school, and again during the second year of their residency. “Along with a host of demographic questions, the doctors were asked to rate themselves on two statements: ‘I feel burned out from my work’ and ‘I’ve become more callous toward people since I started this job’.” Here’s what they found:
Nearly 50 percent of young doctors in training programs called residencies reported burnout symptoms at least one day a week. And a large number said they felt they had made a mistake in choosing a subspecialty, such as pathology or anesthesiology, or even medicine in general as a profession….
Overall, 45 percent of residents reported at least one symptom of burnout — such as exhaustion — at least once a week, while 14 percent reported regret over career choice.
The second study started out as meta-analysis of previous research on physician burnout.
But after gathering 182 reports involving 109,628 physicians from 45 countries, they determined that the definitions of burnout and the study methods were so disparate that it was impossible to draw any conclusions.
The second study underscores just how difficult this problem has been to identify and address: when you can’t even agree on a definition of burnout that makes it testable, it becomes a lot easier to not take it seriously.