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AAP National Conference: Learn strategies to manage stress, avoid burnout :

October 25, 2016

Long hours, administrative hassles, angry parents, medical uncertainty, patient deaths. It’s no wonder pediatricians are stressed out.

Left unchecked, stress can have devastating consequences. An estimated 300-400 physicians a year commit suicide. Such tragedies also strike medical trainees. In 2014, two residents in different training programs jumped to their deaths in separate incidents in New York City.

Medical student suicides have hit close to home for Albina Gogo, M.D., FAAP, associate residency program director at UC Davis Health System. Several students committed suicide during her time at UC Davis as a medical student, resident and pediatrician.

“I (have) witnessed our residents really struggling with the intensity of the work, the workload, the long hours, the expectations,” Dr. Gogo said.

To combat stress, fatigue and burnout, she was among a group that developed “Resilience in the Face of Grief and Loss: A Curriculum for Medical Students, Pediatric Residents, and Fellows” (

The last part of the curriculum focuses on wellness, which Dr. Gogo will draw on as she leads a seminar titled “Doctor Heal Thyself: Self-care for the Pediatrician (S4104)” from 4-5:30 p.m. Tuesday in Room 304 of Moscone South. Joining Dr. Gogo will be Gena Castro Rodriguez, Psy.D., L.M.F.T., chief of victim services and parallel justice programs in the San Francisco District Attorney's Office.

“As pediatricians, prevention is a basic part of our practice of medicine and should also be basic in the care of ourselves,” Dr. Gogo said.
When discussing stress and burnout among pediatricians, it’s important to define burnout, she said. Christina Maslach, Ph.D., a leading researcher on job burnout, developed an inventory that measures three components of burnout: 1) emotional exhaustion, 2) depersonalization or a distant attitude toward the people one serves, and 3) a low sense of personal accomplishment or feelings of failure.

A recent study found that 54% of physicians surveyed in 2014 experienced some aspect of burnout, up from 46% in 2011 (Shanafelt TD, et al. Mayo Clin Proc. 2015;90:1600-1613). Meanwhile, the percentage of the general population reporting burnout remained steady at about 28%.

Those who worked on the resiliency curriculum “feel that it’s time to change the culture of medicine so that it is acceptable to talk about burnout and identify ways of addressing it and preventing it from happening,” Dr. Gogo said.

During the session, attendees will break up into small groups and discuss ideas for maintaining wellness.

“When we started working on wellness, one thing we were impressed with was there were some physicians who thought that focusing on a physician’s wellness was selfish and a sign of weakness,” Dr. Gogo said. “But when one looks at the potential consequence of ignoring or overlooking the stress of work and subsequent burnout, it’s critical to the overall health of not only ourselves but all of our patients and the medical groups that employ us.”

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