Features  |   November 2014
Burnout in Anesthesiologists: An Update
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Features   |   November 2014
Burnout in Anesthesiologists: An Update
ASA Monitor 11 2014, Vol.78, 18-20.
ASA Monitor 11 2014, Vol.78, 18-20.
For many, burnout is seen as an extreme state, akin to nervous breakdown, and only experienced by the most overworked, overwrought, unbalanced members of our community. They do not see it as the smoldering, relapsing and remitting condition currently being experienced by roughly half of American physicians. Whether by loss of control over our practice, ever-increasing documentation, the constant threat of litigation, time away from family or the mounting complexity of modern medicine, our profession is suffering from an epidemic of burnout. It is affecting our health, our professionalism, the care of our patients and our career longevity.
Burnout is defined by the Merriam Webster Dictionary as “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration.” This definition highlights that burnout is multifaceted (emotional, physical and motivational) and not synonymous with stress; rather, it is the result of prolonged stress. To highlight the distinction, consider the following visual: a stressor is a wave coming to shore – it can be large or small, solitary or in a set, loud or tranquil, even fun depending on perspective. Burnout, on the other hand, is like being trapped under a set of large waves – deafening, overwhelming, isolating, suffocating, relentless – leaving you disoriented and unsure if you will ever surface again.
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