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Burnout, Dissatisfaction Seem Rampant Among Medical Residents
Date:9/6/2011

By Kathleen Doheny
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Sept. 6 (HealthDay News) -- The medical resident of today -- possibly your doctor in the future -- is exhausted, emotionally spent and likely stressed out about debt, a new study indicates.

"About 50 percent of our trainees are burned out," said study leader Dr. Colin P. West, an associate professor of medicine and biostatistics at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Higher levels of stress translated into lower scores on tests that gauge medical knowledge and more emotional detachment, among other fallout.

The study is published in the Sept. 7 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, a themed issue devoted to doctors' training.

West and his team evaluated results of surveys and exams given to nearly 17,000 internal medicine residents, who were said to represent about 75 percent of all U.S. internal medicine residents in the 2008-9 academic year. The participants included 7,743 graduates of U.S. medical schools. They were asked about quality of life, work-life balance, burnout and their educational debt.

Among the findings:

  • Nearly 15 percent said their overall quality of life was "somewhat bad" or "as bad as it can be."
  • One-third said they were somewhat or very dissatisfied with work-life balance.
  • Forty-six percent said they were feeling emotionally exhausted at least once a week.
  • Nearly 29 percent said they felt detached or unable to feel emotion at least once a week.
  • More than half said they had at least one symptom of burnout.

The more educational debt the residents had incurred, the greater their emotional distress, the researchers found. Those with more than $200,000 of debt had a 59 percent higher chance of reporting emotional exhaustion, 72 percent greater likelihood of suffering burnout, and an 80 percent higher chance of feeling depersonalization.

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