Burnout—What Is It? (Part I)

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Burnout—What Is It? (Part I)

Burnout is a significant issue throughout the healthcare system and physicians are not exempt. In fact, up to 50% of physicians suffer from burnout. In 2014, at the Mayo Clinic, the burnout rate among orthopedic surgeons was 59.6%, up from 48.3% in 2011.

There are 3 components to burnout: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and personal satisfaction. These includes loss of meaning at work, feelings of ineffectiveness, a tendency to view people as objects rather than as human beings, and a loss of work-life balance. Burnout has a negative effect on quality of care, patient safety, physician turnover, and patient satisfaction. It can also lead to loneliness, increased irritability, anxiety, depression, and an increased risk of medical problems including heart disease and diabetes.

The author Shanafelt believes that engagement is the positive antithesis of burnout and can be characterized by vigor, dedication, and absorption in work. Engagement is a shared responsibility as organizations work with physicians to improve workload, efficiency, and meaning at work.

More specifics on how to combat physician burnout will be discussed in Burnout – Part II.

Kim Furry, MD
[email protected]


Ariely, DN and Lanier, W. Disturbing trends in physician burnout and satisfaction with work-life balance: dealing with malady among the nation’s healers. Mayo Clin Proc. Dec 2015;90(12):1593-1596.

Shanafelt, TD, et al. Changes in burnout and satisfaction with work-life balance in physician and the general US working population between 2011 and 2014. Mayo Clin Proc. Dec 2015;90(12):1600-1613.

Shanafelt, TD and Noseworthy, JH. Executive leadership and physician well-being: Nine organizational strategies to promote engagement and reduce burnout. Mayo Clin Proc. 2016;92(1):129-146.

Daniels, AH, DePasse, JM, Kamal, RN.  Orthopaedic surgeon burnout: diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. JAAOS. 2016;24(4):213-219.


DISCLAIMER: Statements of fact and opinion are the responsibility of the authors alone and do not imply an opinion or endorsement on the part of the officers or the members of WOA unless such opinion or endorsement is specifically stated. Materials may be reproduced only if Touches and the Western Orthopaedic Association are credited.

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Comments on "Burnout—What Is It? (Part I)"

Comments 0-5 of 2

Dr. Kim Furry - Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Thank you for your comment Jeff. I just tried to follow the link above. I didn't know about Surgeon Masters, but will create an account and login. I appreciate the info. And, you are welcome. I'm glad you find them useful.

Dr. Jeffrey Smith - Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Thank you Dr. Furry. Thank you WOA for "Touches" Here are some Burnout Resources! https://surgeonmasters.com/surgeon-burnout-resources/

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