The Challenges of Well Being: Battling Early Career Physician Burnout

Posted on June 19, 2019 by Sarah Prom, MA, LPC, ODCP

Updated October 26, 2020

Burnout Threat Hits Young Physicians Harder

The threat of burnout is a serious and widely recognized issue—for medical quality, physician well being and retention. It affects physicians at most levels of experience, but it can be particularly acute in the lives of early-career physicians.

Young doctors are transitional people—passing through the challenging stages of medical education, residency and their first jobs. They may be in the early stages of raising young families too, while negotiating the steep learning curve of day-to-day medical practice.

And the practice itself is challenging as never before: electronic medical record keeping, increasing patient loads, an aging population with complex conditions—these and other factors combine to present idealistic young physicians with a real medical world which can seem overwhelming. Studies show an alarmingly high percentage of younger physicians feel they may have chosen the wrong profession.

In addition, younger physicians are conscious, as their elders may not have been, of their own well being as important. They’re not as likely to believe in sacrificing everything—including their own health—for the sake of patients. They want work-life balance, not out of selfishness, but as a matter of responsibility.

What You Can Do

What can organizations do to keep their younger physicians—and keep them happy and productive? The first step is to recognize the problem; the second is to keep three values in mind: flexibility, mentoring and social support. When young physicians feel the organization understands their need for scheduling meeting their needs, for sympathetic senior colleagues to guide them and for times and places to bond with other doctors and blow off steam, they’re less likely to burn out.

They’re also more likely to be loyal and engaged, to make and keep a deep commitment to the organization.

To learn more, read our full Article "The Challenges of Well Being: Battling Early Career Physician Burnout."


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