Burnout: A Major Injury

In our June 2019 issue, ASH Clinical News Associate Editor Alice Ma, MD, examined the recent attention being paid to physician wellness and burnout, and the danger of placing the burden of solving burnout on individual physicians. “True change will require institutional efforts to improve the culture of wellness and efficiency of practice, in addition to support for the encouragement of individual resilience,” she wrote. Below, two readers react to the editorial and reflect on their experiences with “physician unwellness.”

Thank you for your editorial. Today, I returned to work after 12 weeks of maternity leave, and my burnout level was at an all-time high this morning, which struck me as a major problem – how could I feel burned out, when I had not been at work for the past three months?

I agree with you: It’s almost impossible to ignore the press on physician wellness and burnout. But now what? I will also argue that, while there is significant attention to women physicians, I think the female physician burnout subgroup is a unique subgroup.

Your editorial made me laugh – especially your story of the IT people and their needs for transfusion orders a certain way.

Thank you for making me smile on what has been a hard day.

Kelsey Martin, MD
Yale Smilow Cancer Care Center
Orange, CT

Thanks for introducing us to the concept of “moral injury.” It’s right on target. Depressing that unwellness is where quality was a decade ago, given how little progress we’ve made with quality. I love your columns!

Susan Shurin, MD
Senior Adviser, National Cancer Institute
San Diego, CA