Combating Burnout in Anesthesiology Residents




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Burnout amongst anesthesia providers is nothing new. For a profession that requires countless years of schooling and training, and demands of working long hours – not to mention the psychological burden of patient care – it is of little surprise that the job takes its toll.

Survey results released earlier this year in Medscape’s Physician Lifestyle Report showed that 42% of anesthesiologists indicate they are burned out. Only physicians involved in emergency medicine and critical care experienced higher rates (50%) of burnout. And just published in this month’s Anesthesia & Analgesia Journal was a study that highlighted the alarming rate of burnout and depression in anesthesia residents. Naturally, the conclusion that is drawn is not only deterioration in the anesthesia provider’s health, but an increased risk in patient health and safety.

It begs the question: If anesthesia residents are already experiencing burnout before they complete training, and research has shown it’s sure to continue once they begin their careers, is there any viable way to combat the issue?

In order to fully implement the proper solutions, let’s take a step back and look at the top five causes according to the Medscape report:

  • Too many bureaucratic tasks
  • Impact of Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
  • Too many hours at work
  • Feeling like “a cog in the wheel”
  • Lack of professional fulfillment

While the lack of professional fulfillment may be an inherent feeling that’s difficult to reverse, the first four are potentially amendable, according to Brandy Pearson, Somnia’s national director of recruitment.

“When I speak to prospective candidates, whether they are new graduates or experienced clinicians with twenty years of experience, I always ask why they’re considering a new opportunity and what they’re looking to accomplish in the change. Often, If told a change of scenery is needed, that is code for ‘burnout.’

“What I stress to candidates is when you work for an anesthesia management company like Somnia, many of the burdensome responsibilities – the administrative tasks – are off your plate, which helps ease some of the burdens of working as an anesthesia provider. At Somnia, we take care of that and afford you with the variety, flexibility, and stability you need to have a fulfilling work-lifestyle balance.”

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