WASHINGTON – Women in medicine often feel “used up” and have a reduced sense of accomplishment because of professional and personal burnout, according to a presentation by the interim-chief at the University of Washington School of Medicine, here at Digestive Disease Week 2018.
“Burnout is a work-related syndrome where the impact is detrimental in three domains of our professional lives,” Karen F. Murray, MD, said, noting the domains are emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced personal accomplishment.
There is a 22-item measurement of burnout created by Christina Maslach and Susan E. Jackson.
Through this tool investigators discovered that “emotional exhaustion is by far the most dominant of the domains, and depersonalization correlates mostly with the most negative aspects of burnout,” she said.
Research has shown that burnout is prevalent in physicians, Murray said.
Female physicians are particularly vulnerable to a sense of decreased personal accomplishment.
“Women tend most commonly to express this as exhaustion and they commonly express this as linked to their work-conflict, while men tend to become disengaged and they link it to workload,” she said.
Consequences to physician burnout are patient care, physician health and the impact on the U.S. health care system.
Murray described ways to mitigate physician burnout.
“It is very important that we as institutions and as individuals consider both individual focused ways to mitigate it as well as organizational solutions that might be available to impact burnout for both men and women,” she said.
Murray recommends looking for excessive workloads, work inefficiencies, lack of work support, lack of work-home integration, the feeling of loss of control and autonomy, and “the risk of loss and meaning in their work.
“We find that when there is focus on these domains both individual and organizational solutions can be taken, we can reduce the emotional exhaustion by 14%, depersonalization by 4% and overall burnout symptoms by 10%,” she said.
Murray recommended a three-part individual focused approach. First, she recommends individuals identify and balance professional and personal goals.
“What are our priorities?” she said. “And let’s schedule and assume control of that. Of course, this requires both personal intention as well as cooperation with our workplace,” noting benefits of flexible work schedules.
Second, identify stressors. Murray suggested looking to make sure one is surrounded by the right staff, “protective time” for scholarly activities, promote one’s core values, and also look to “have electronic medical records work for us.”
Finally, she said nurture personal wellness.
“It is very important to be self-reflective. Think about what is it for you individually and try to prioritize your goals and work with your employment to make that possible,” Murray said. – by Joan-Marie Stiglich, ELS
Murray FF. The science of burnout. Gastroenterology Women’s Coalition Symposium. Presented at: Digestive Disease Week 2018. June 2-5, 2018; Washington, DC.
Disclosure: Murray reports no relevant financial disclosures.