Higher Grit Scores Associated With Less Burnout in a Cohort of Internal Medicine Residents

Am J Med Sci. 2020 Oct;360(4):357-362. doi: 10.1016/j.amjms.2020.05.045. Epub 2020 Jun 3.


Background: The association between grit, defined as perseverance and passion for long-term goals, and professional burnout has not been studied in internal medicine residents. Our objective was to examine whether internal medicine residents' scores on a grit scale were associated with various measures of burnout.

Methods: All residents from a single internal medicine program were invited to participate in a study of grit and burnout. Grit and burnout were measured using the Short Grit Scale and modified Maslach Burnout Inventory, respectively. In addition, demographics, last In-Training Examination (ITE) score, and interest in a subspecialty were captured.

Results: A total of 139 of 168 eligible residents (83%) participated. Emotional exhaustion and depersonalization (i.e., burn out) were identified in 63% and 42% of residents, respectively. Endorsement of emotional exhaustion was higher for residents living with family members, postgraduate year (PGY)1 and PGY2 compared with PGY3 residents, and residents scoring above the 50th percentile on the last ITE. Grit scores were higher for residents not reporting emotional exhaustion. As grit score increases, the odds of reporting emotional exhaustion significantly decreased, after adjustments for demographics, ITE scores, type of medical school, PGY level, and interest in a subspecialty (odds ratio = 0.36, 95% CI 0.15-0.84).

Conclusions: Grit appeared to be an independent predictor of burnout in internal medicine residents in this sample, with lower grit scores associated with higher burnout scores. By measuring grit early in residency, programs can potentially identify residents at risk for symptoms of burnout, specifically emotional exhaustion, and implement targeted interventions.

Keywords: Burnout; Graduate medical education; Grit; Internal medicine; Residents; Resiliency.

MeSH terms

  • Burnout, Professional / psychology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Humans
  • Internal Medicine / education*
  • Internship and Residency / organization & administration*
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Stress, Psychological*
  • Students, Medical / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires