Another option is for departments and institutions to provide faculty, chairs and residents with career support and counseling that helps them find that sense of accomplishment that is so critical to combating burnout. "By identifying the priorities of their personal and professional life, surgeons can identify values, choose the optimal practice type, manage the stressors unique to that career path, determine the optimal personal work-life balance and nurture their personal wellness," wrote Charles Balch, MD, FACS, professor of surgery, oncology and dermatology and deputy director at Johns Hopkins Institute for Clinical and Translational Research in Baltimore, in "Combating stress and burnout in surgical practice: a review," published last year in Advances in Surgery (44:29-47).
Explore This IssueAugust 2011
Chairs also need to work with residents to help them find that sense of satisfaction in their work – even if their autonomy is low. "We need to help residents realize what an important role they play in patient care, and how critical they are to the overall well-being of the patients we deal with," Dr. Teknos said. "That may give residents more of a sense of personal achievement."
For all otolaryngologists, no matter what their career level, work-life balance is key to combating burnout, Dr. Teknos said. "It’s essential to have a support system outside of work that can balance out the stresses, emotional exhaustion and depersonalization of your job."