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Dissatisfaction, Burnout Common in Medical Residents

Last Updated: September 06, 2011.

Suboptimal quality of life, overall burnout, and emotional exhaustion are common among internal medicine residents, and are associated with higher levels of educational debt, according to a study published in the Sept. 7 medical education-themed issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

TUESDAY, Sept. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Suboptimal quality of life (QOL), overall burnout, and emotional exhaustion are common among internal medicine residents, and are associated with higher levels of educational debt, according to a study published in the Sept. 7 medical education-themed issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Colin P. West, M.D., Ph.D., from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and colleagues measured well-being, and its relation to demographics, educational debt, and medical knowledge (year of training) in 7,743 U.S. and 8,571 international medical graduates. Data were collected from 2008 and 2009 Internal Medicine In-Training Examination (IM-ITE) scores and the 2008 IM-ITE survey.

The investigators found that 14.8 percent of the residents rated QOL as "as bad as it can be" or "somewhat bad," and 51.5, 45.8, and 28.9 percent reported overall burnout, high emotional exhaustion, and depersonalization, respectively. After multivariate adjustments, burnout was less common among international than U.S. medical graduates. Greater educational debt correlated with the presence of at least one burnout symptom. The mean IM-ITE scores in residents with QOL "as bad as it can be," emotional exhaustion, and debt greater than $200,000 were 2.7, 4.2, and 5.0 points lower than in those with a QOL "as good as it can be," no emotional exhaustion symptoms, and no debt, respectively.

"Suboptimal QOL and dissatisfaction with work-life balance were common in this national cohort of internal medicine residents," the authors write.

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