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Research suggests that US physicians are the most stressed out during their training years and in many cases, that stress leads to burnout in the field. Medical residency programs across the country are coming to similar realizations and starting to promote that maintaining personal well-being is just as important as academic achievements.
Life during residency is anything but glamorous. Holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and other events are met with on-call duties. Work conflicts overrule family events and relationships sometimes have to take a backseat to the job.
Physicians-in-training report the importance of fully immersing themselves on-the-job when they’re on rotation and this can sometimes lead to unintentional relationship neglect. When residents and fellows do have a day off, the day is spent catching up on sleep, errands, and other personal tasks that fall by the wayside. 4
More and more institutions are recognizing the importance of work-life integration by promoting self-awareness through online self-assessment tools like the Well-Being Index, as well as encouraging time spent completely separated from their work at the hospital.
Burnout does not occur in a vacuum, so the side effects can easily spill over onto the institution. Poor judgment calls can arise when a resident is feeling burnt out, resulting in decreased quality of patient care. These medical errors not only reflect poorly on the individual but also on the entire institution.
Resident burnout can easily result in a poor attitude towards patients and colleagues. Empathy may decrease in these situations and end in dissatisfaction - or even anger - for all parties involved. A high resident or fellow turnover rate can be another consequence of not dealing with burnout rates in medical professionals. Turnover rates can cost hospitals hundreds of thousands of dollars in taking on new physicians. Additionally, low patient satisfaction and a higher chance for malpractice can be glaring consequences if burnout is not addressed and resolved.