Objective: Burnout is a state of mental and physical exhaustion related to work or care giving activities. Burnout during residency training has gained significant attention secondary to concerns regarding job performance and patient care. This article reviews the relevant literature on burnout in order to provide information to educators about its prevalence, features, impact, and potential interventions.
Methods: Studies were identified through a Medline and PsychInfo search from 1974 to 2009. Fifty-one studies were identified. Definition and description of burnout and measurement methods are presented followed by a thorough review of the studies.
Results: An examination of the burnout literature reveals that it is prevalent in medical students (28%-45%), residents (27%-75%, depending on specialty), as well as practicing physicians. Psychological distress and physical symptoms can impact work performance and patient safety. Distress during medical school can lead to burnout, which in turn can result in negative consequences as a working physician. Burnout also poses significant challenges during early training years in residency. Time demands, lack of control, work planning, work organization, inherently difficult job situations, and interpersonal relationships, are considered factors contributing to residents' burnout. Potential interventions include workplace-driven and individual-driven measures. Workplace interventions include education about burnout, workload modifications, increasing the diversity of work duties, stress management training, mentoring, emotional intelligence training, and wellness workshops. Individual-driven behavioral, social, and physical activities include promoting interpersonal professional relations, meditation, counseling, and exercise.
Conclusions: Educators need to develop an active awareness of burnout and ought to consider incorporating relevant instruction and interventions during the process of training resident physicians.