Dr Wardrop has disclosed no financial relationship relevant to this commentary. This commentary does not contain a discussion of an unapproved/investigative use of a commercial product/device.
Physician burnout in the United States is reaching epidemic proportions. This issue has been well documented in medical and nonmedical literature.1,2 Physician burnout is reported in all medical specialties and includes not only practicing physicians, but also medical students and residents.3
Alarmingly, data from a recent follow-up national survey of physicians indicate that the problem measurably worsened between 2011 and 2014, compared to earlier periods.2 Physician burnout increased across all specialties during this time, along with less satisfaction with work-life balance. Unfortunately, many of the specialties reporting lower satisfaction scores are those that serve as front-line or primary care providers, including General Internal Medicine, Emergency Medicine, and Family Medicine. Though they echoed this temporal worsening, pediatricians (both general and subspecialty) reported lower burnout and higher satisfaction with work-life balance than other specialties.2
Predictors of physician burnout include unbalanced work stresses, chaotic work environments, and a lack of alignment between ideals of the institution and individuals, among others.4 Strategies have been proposed to prevent burnout; however, it is not clear why pediatricians consistently report more satisfaction with their field. Understanding these reasons may reveal strategies that can help physician satisfaction in other specialties as well, or may alternatively reveal personality characteristics intrinsic to those who choose pediatrics.
Several professional organizations such as the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and American College of Physicians have begun campaigns to help member physicians avoid burnout, seek treatment when needed, and promote resiliency. Therefore, we at AAP Grand Rounds invite readers to submit general comments or factors that they feel help mitigate burnout in their professional lives and bring balance and satisfaction between professional and personal roles. Please send comments to the AAP Grand Rounds blog site at www.grandroundsblog.org.