#ThinkSpeak & #AAN2017: burnout

Did you know neurologists are the specialists that are most likely to suffer burnout? #ThinkSpeak #AAN2017

I went to the opening, or plenary, session of the AAN meeting and heard Terrence Cascino, the President of the AAN, present the data from a national survey of US neurologists on well-being, burnout and career satisfaction. It was flabbergasted to hear that neurology is the speciality most likely to be affected by burnout and that ~60% of  respondents had at least one symptom of burnout. As this impacts negatively on their work, I wonder how it is affecting the management of their patients with MS?

When Terrence Cascino presented the list of symptoms of burnout I realised that I, and a lot of my colleagues, suffer from burnout; i.e. emotional exhaustion, feelings of cynicism and detachment (depersonalization), and a sense of ineffectiveness at work (low personal accomplishment). I realise that I need to do something about it, but what?   

Busis et al. Burnout, career satisfaction, and well-being among US neurologists in 2016. Neurology. 2017 Feb 21;88(8):797-808.

OBJECTIVE: To study prevalence of and factors that contribute to burnout, career satisfaction, and well-being in US neurologists.

METHODS: A total of 4,127 US American Academy of Neurology member neurologists who had finished training were surveyed using validated measures of burnout, career satisfaction, and well-being from January 19 to March 21, 2016.

RESULTS: Response rate was 40.5% (1,671 of 4,127). Average age of participants was 51 years, with 65.3% male and nearly equal representation across US geographic regions. Approximately 60% of respondents had at least one symptom of burnout. Hours worked/week, nights on call/week, number of outpatients seen/week, and amount of clerical work were associated with greater burnout risk. Effective support staff, job autonomy, meaningful work, age, and subspecializing in epilepsy were associated with lower risk. Academic practice (AP) neurologists had a lower burnout rate and higher rates of career satisfaction and quality of life than clinical practice (CP) neurologists. Some factors contributing to burnout were shared between AP and CP, but some risks were unique to practice setting. Factors independently associated with profession satisfaction included meaningfulness of work, job autonomy, effectiveness of support staff, age, practicing sleep medicine (inverse relationship), and percent time in clinical practice (inverse relationship). Burnout was strongly associated with decreased career satisfaction.

CONCLUSIONS: Burnout is common in all neurology practice settings and subspecialties. The largest driver of career satisfaction is the meaning neurologists find in their work. The results from this survey will inform approaches needed to reduce burnout and promote career satisfaction and well-being in US neurologists.

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