Burnout plagues residency program directors

Residency Program Insider, November 28, 2018

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In 2016, one third of medicine residency directors were burned out and about half had considered resigning in the preceding year, recent research shows.

"Turnover of a residency program director impacts not just the physician and clinical practice, but the residency program and residents in it … since 2009, the median tenure of an internal medicine program director has ranged from four to six years," researchers wrote in the American Journal of Medicine.

The researchers examined residency program director survey data from 2012 to 2016. The study focused on questions related to emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and whether program directors had considered resigning in the previous year.

  •  Less than half of residency program directors in 2012 remained program directors in 2016.
  •  In 2016, 33% of program directors were burned out and 48% had contemplated resignation in the prior year.

"While burnout was associated with program director turnover, we found a particularly strong association between consideration of resigning and program director turnover. Alarmingly, almost one half of the program directors in our sample had considered resigning in the preceding year," the researchers wrote.

Maintaining time for residents to pursue academics can be a draining challenge for residency program directors, said Alec O'Connor, MD, MPH, professor of medicine and director of the Internal Medicine Residency Program at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in New York.

"One of the most common critical issues program directors face is protecting residents from growing volumes of patient care in academic medical centers, which crowd out time for education and contribute to resident and faculty burnout. These issues can be costly and difficult to fix with a non-resident workforce, but they are core to maintaining the educational mission at residency programs."

Source: HealthLeaders

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