If emotional exhaustion is an early predictor for the development of some level of burnout, it seems reasonable that close observation of a resident physician for this phenomenon would be a salutary finding to prompt intervention and mitigation. When depersonalization of oneself and of the patient leads to diminished capacity for self-realization and concern for the patient, burnout is at a serious stage. What follows may be an obvious lack of concern for personal appearance and care, and for the care of and interaction with patients. Errors and mishaps in patient encounters may occur, and these may further depress the resident, leading to lowered feelings of self-worth and a downward spiral of competency. Bedside manner becomes worrisome.
It is an ethical imperative for the program director—as well as all faculty members—to be aware of the burnout phenomenon, and to always be observant for signs of its occurrence. Better yet, programs need to institute, or strengthen, preventive programs that directly impact and mitigate the issues that can lead to burnout in residency. This may well begin with faculty training on the burnout phenomenon, both for their own welfare and to enable them to recognize the signs and symptoms (perhaps in themselves as well as in the residents). Faculty recognition of the insidiousness of professional burnout will provide a better sense of why it is important to prevent and/or ensure early mitigation of these representative personal difficulties—physical and emotional exhaustion, detachment from social interactions, poor patient communications, difficulties with personal relationships, decreased self-confidence and self-worth, mistakes in patient care, and signs of clinical depression, to name a few. | ← Previous | | | Next → | Single Page