Career Fit and Burnout Among Academic Faculty

Departments of Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic, 200 First St SW, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.
Archives of internal medicine (Impact Factor: 17.33). 05/2009; 169(10):990-5. DOI: 10.1001/archinternmed.2009.70
Source: PubMed


Extensive literature documents personal distress among physicians and a decrease in their satisfaction with the practice of medicine over recent years. We hypothesized that physicians who spent more of their time in the aspect of work that they found most meaningful would have a lower risk of burnout.
Faculty physicians in the Department of Internal Medicine at a large academic medical center were surveyed in the fall of 2007. The survey evaluated demographic variables, work characteristics, and career satisfaction. Burnout was measured using the Maslach Burnout Inventory. Additional questions evaluated which professional activity (eg, research, education, patient care, or administration) was most personally meaningful and the percentage of effort that was devoted to each activity.
Of 556 physicians sampled, 465 (84%) returned surveys. A majority (68%) reported that patient care was the aspect of work that they found most meaningful, with smaller percentages reporting research (19%), education (9%), or administration (3%) as being most meaningful. Overall, 34% of faculty members met the criteria for burnout. The amount of time spent working on the most meaningful activity was strongly related to the risk of burnout. Those spending less than 20% of their time (approximately 1 d/wk) on the activity that is most meaningful to them had higher rates of burnout (53.8% vs 29.9%; P<.001). Time spent on the most meaningful activity was the largest predictor of burnout on multivariate analysis (odds ratio, 2.75; P = .001).
The extent to which faculty physicians are able to focus on the aspect of work that is most meaningful to them has a strong inverse relationship to their risk of burnout. Efforts to optimize career fit may promote physician satisfaction and help to reduce attrition among academic faculty physicians.

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Available from: Colin P West, Oct 05, 2015
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    • "While the samples for these studies are somewhat limited, they raise concerns about the challenge of balancing academic and clinical work. When this balance does not allow a faculty member to spend enough time engaging in the most meaningful aspect of his or her work, this can be particularly problematic and has been found to correlate with emotional exhaustion and burnout (Shanafelt et al. 2009). Given these pressures, the need to improve our understanding of what makes faculty highly engaged with their work, productive, and satisfied has never been greater. "
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    ABSTRACT: Many faculty in today's academic medical centers face high levels of stress and low career satisfaction. Understanding faculty vitality is critically important for the health of our academic medical centers, yet the concept is ill-defined and lacking a comprehensive model. Expanding on previous research that examines vital faculty in higher education broadly and in academic medical centers specifically, this study proposes an expanded model of the unique factors that contribute to faculty vitality in academic medicine. We developed an online survey on the basis of a conceptual model (N = 564) and used linear regression to investigate the fit of the model. We examined the relationships of two predictor variables measuring Primary Unit Climate and Leadership and Career and Life Management with an overall Faculty Vitality index comprised of three measures: Professional Engagement, Career Satisfaction, and Productivity. The findings revealed significant predictive relationships between Primary Unit Climate and Leadership, Career and Life Management, and Faculty Vitality. The overall model accounted for 59% of the variance in the overall Faculty Vitality Index. The results provide new insights into the developing model of faculty vitality and inform initiatives to support faculty in academic medical centers. Given the immense challenges faced by faculty, now more than ever do we need reliable evidence regarding what sustains faculty vitality.
    Advances in Health Sciences Education 12/2011; 17(5). DOI:10.1007/s10459-011-9339-7 · 2.12 Impact Factor
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    • "Indeed, it has been reported that pre-employment information increased satisfaction and reduced turnover rates of primary care physicians (Williams & Konrad 1995). Furthermore, faculty members, who spent more time in the type of work (research, education, patient care, or administration) that they found most meaningful , were at a lower risk of burnout (Shanafelt et al. 2009). Hence, our hope that creating realistic expectations in medical students and counseling them with a view of helping them optimize their career will indeed reduce future distress. "
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    ABSTRACT: Medical students and doctors experience several types of professional distress. Their causes ("stressors") are commonly classified as exogenous (adapting to medical school or clinical practice) and endogenous (due to personality traits). Attempts to reduce distress have consisted of providing students with support and counseling, and improving doctors' management of work time and workload. To review the common professional stressors, suggest additional ones, and propose ways to reduce their impact. Narrative review of the literature. We suggest adding two professional stressors to those already described in the literature. First, the incongruity between students' expectations and the realities of medical training and practice. Second, the inconsistencies between some aspects of medical education (e.g., its biomedical orientation) and clinical practice (e.g., high proportion of patients with psychosocial problems). The impact of these stressors may be reduced by two modifications in undergraduate medical programs. First, by identifying training-practice discrepancies, with a view of correcting them. Second, by informing medical students, both upon admission and throughout the curriculum, about the types and frequency of professional distress, with a view of creating realistic expectations, teaching students how to deal with stressors, and encouraging them to seek counseling when needed.
    Medical Teacher 06/2011; 33(6):486-90. DOI:10.3109/0142159X.2010.531156 · 1.68 Impact Factor
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    • "In longitudinal normative samples of physicians, however, only reciprocal and no clear one-way directional relationships between job stress and emotional exhaustion have been found [15,16]. A few studies from the U.S. have found an association between number of work hours (one component of work load) and burnout among physicians [17-19], while other studies (mainly European) have failed to do so [4,20-22]. This may be due to longer work hours in the U.S. A reduction in number of work hours/week, however, has been shown to be associated with reduction in emotional exhaustion, not only among U.S. residents [23-25], but also in a cohort of Norwegian physicians [26]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Knowledge about important factors in reduction of burnout is needed, but there is a dearth of burnout intervention program studies and their effects among physicians. The present three-year follow-up study aimed to investigate the roles of coping strategies, job stress and personality traits in burnout reduction after a counselling intervention for distressed physicians. 227 physicians who attended a counselling intervention for burnout at the Resource Centre Villa Sana, Norway in 2003-2005, were followed with self-report assessments at baseline, one-year, and three-year follow-up. Main outcome measures were emotional exhaustion (one dimension of burnout), job stress, coping strategies and neuroticism. Changes in these measures were analyzed with repeated measures ANOVA. Temporal relationships between changes were examined using structural modelling with cross-lagged and synchronous panel models. 184 physicians (81%, 83 men, 101 women) completed the three-year follow-up assessment. Significantly reduced levels of emotional exhaustion, job stress, and emotion-focused coping strategies from baseline to one year after the intervention, were maintained at three-year follow-up.Panel modelling indicated that changes in emotion-focused coping (z = 4.05, p < 0.001) and job stress (z = 3.16, p < 0.01) preceded changes in emotional exhaustion from baseline to three-year follow-up. A similar pattern was found from baseline to one-year follow-up. A sequential relationship indicated that reduction in emotion-focused coping and in job stress preceded reduction in emotional exhaustion. As a consequence, coping strategies and job stress could be important foci in intervention programs that aim to reduce or prevent burnout in help-seeking physicians.
    BMC Public Health 04/2010; 10(1):213. DOI:10.1186/1471-2458-10-213 · 2.26 Impact Factor
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