Physician burnout: A neurologic crisis

Neurology. 2014 Dec 9;83(24):2302-6. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000001077. Epub 2014 Nov 5.


The prevalence of burnout is higher in physicians than in other professions and is especially high in neurologists. Physician burnout encompasses 3 domains: (1) emotional exhaustion: the loss of interest and enthusiasm for practice; (2) depersonalization: a poor attitude with cynicism and treating patients as objects; and (3) career dissatisfaction: a diminished sense of personal accomplishment and low self-value. Burnout results in reduced work hours, relocation, depression, and suicide. Burned-out physicians harm patients because they lack empathy and make errors. Studies of motivational factors in the workplace suggest several preventive interventions: (1) Provide counseling for physicians either individually or in groups with a goal of improving adaptive skills to the stress and rapid changes in the health care environment. (2) Identify and eliminate meaningless required hassle factors such as electronic health record "clicks" or insurance mandates. (3) Redesign practice to remove pressure to see patients in limited time slots and shift to team-based care. (4) Create a culture that promotes career advancement, mentoring, and recognition of accomplishments.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Burnout, Professional / epidemiology
  • Burnout, Professional / prevention & control*
  • Depersonalization
  • Electronic Health Records
  • Humans
  • Models, Psychological
  • Neurology / methods*
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Prevalence
  • Suicide Prevention