Resilience and burnout—are these two sides of the same coin? Recently, Becker’s Hospital Review cited Medscape’s 2022 Physician Burnout and Depression report, which surveyed more than 13,000 physicians across 29 specialties between June 29–September 26, 2021, indicating that 47% of physicians reported feeling burned out last year. Public health and preventive medicine remained at the lower end of the spectrum with 26% of respondents reporting burnout, while emergency medicine reported the highest level of burnout at 60%.
Mayo Clinic Proceedings also recently published a study evaluating the prevalence of burnout and satisfaction with work-life integration among physicians and US workers in 2020 relative to 2011, 2014, and 2017. This study shows that burnout and work-life integration actually improved between 2017 and 2020. Physicians in specialties most impacted by COVID-19 experienced no significant changes in burnout yet all physicians remain at increased risk for burnout (40% higher risk) relative to workers in other fields. Interesting to note, emotional exhaustion and depersonalization scores were lower in 2020 than in the past three years of data and satisfaction with work-life integration was more favorable in 2020 as well. A personal experience with COVID-19—delivering care to COVID infected patients or contracting it directly—was strongly related to the burnout factor. There is great speculation of why there was improvement: some related to the 2017 National Academy of Medicine’s action collaborative to address burnout through their recommendations and the numerous studies, randomized trials, systematic reviews and meta-analyses on various interventions as well as national efforts to improve the health care delivery system and practice environment.
In the recent State of the Union address, President Biden referenced a strategy to address the country’s mental health crisis. We are well aware of the challenges of the past two years and the overall distress, economic disruption and emotional toll from the pandemic, awareness of human inequities and the most recent addition of concern with the Russian attack on Ukraine.
ACPM’s former president, Dr. Bob Carr, has been addressing the topic of wellness and burnout head on through his regular blog and speaking engagements across the country and around the world. His work and prose continue to inspire others and hopefully, you will find his work helpful to you. As someone who strongly believes in the importance of self-awareness and knowing your “optimal zone,” I encourage you to assess your own performance and well-being and to carve out some recovery time to refresh and recharge—whether through daily actions or intentional time to truly step away. Having just returned from a mini-vacation, I can tell you, recovery matters. And, I am grateful for a wonderful staff that enable me to step away to recharge my personal battery.
Wishing you strong batteries, emotional strength, and personal well-being,
Donna Grande, MGA