Burnout in doctors is common.  The latest figures show that at any one time, almost every other physician is experiencing burnout and over a medical lifetime 80% may experience some signs. Whether newly trained residents or experienced physicians and surgeons the risk of burnout remains high, and seems to peak in mid-career.  

Both men and women suffer from burnout. Women doctors are slightly more likely to experience burnout than men but it often manifests differently. For example, women often experience burnout as exhaustion and a loss of purpose, whereas men are more likely to experience exhaustion, depersonalization and cynicism.  Doctor burnout is a worldwide phenomenon and while each country has unique issues that make the daily practice of medicine difficult, almost all physicians around the world experience the same issues with work-life balance and burnout. There is some evidence that osteopathic physicians experience a lower rate of burnout than allopathic physicians, but all doctors are vulnerable.

There is no one cause of burnout but it can be thought of as a discrepancy between the demands made on the physician (stress) and the resources they have available to deal with those demands.  This gives us a guide to the best way to manage or prevent burnout   We can either decrease the demands and stress made on doctors or increase the physician’s resources, and preferably both. In other words physicians must learn the skills they need for career and life management or, for most, burnout is inevitable.