Physician Burnout: Action Items to Confront the Problem
The well-being of physicians has been a trending topic among professionals in the field, medical organizations, and the media in recent years. The increased attention placed on burnout is with good reason, as research indicates that burnout among physicians is increasing at an alarming rate. Burnout can affect aspects of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Three symptoms define burnout: loss of enthusiasm for work (emotional exhaustion), cynicism (depersonalization), and low sense of personal accomplishment (lack of efficacy). Identifying and combatting burnout can prove to be difficult. The most beneficial way to address burnout is to view it as a two-way street in which organizations and physicians commit to preventing, identifying, and addressing burnout. On the individual level, burnout and burnout prevention can be addressed through various lifestyle changes including mindfulness, adjusting eating habits, maintaining physical activity levels, and improving sleep habits. While we as individuals can try to mitigate the symptoms and causes of burnout, health care organizations and policymakers must do their part in addressing the problem as well. Wellness promotion and burnout prevention can and should begin in medical school, and continue throughout training and into our careers.