Study finds high levels of burnout among female trainees, with peak in PGY-2 year

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The study also found a positive correlation between burnout and discrimination-based trauma in trainees.

Data presented at 2023 American Urological Association Annual Meeting in Chicago, Illinois showed high rates of burnout among female physician trainees, which increases throughout years of training.1

Data showed high rates of burnout overall, with a mean score of 30.58 among all trainees in the study.

Data showed high rates of burnout overall, with a mean score of 30.58 among all trainees in the study.

The findings were presented by Vall Vinaithirthan, who said, “Our results showed moderate to high levels of burnout across all subscales of the Maslach Burnout Inventory and showed an association between discrimination-based trauma and burnout.” Vinaithirthan is a medical student at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver.

The randomized controlled trial enrolled 1017 female trainees across 26 graduate medical education (GME) institutions in the United States. Among all participants, around 60% of trainees were White and about 40% identified as a minority. Those included in the study ranged in specialty, with 84.1% being non-surgical trainees. Diagnosis of a prior mental health condition were seen among 2/5 of the participants. The mean age of participants was 31 years.

Burnout was assessed in the study using the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) and the Trauma Symptoms of Discrimination Scale (TSDS). A score higher than 27 on the MBI and a score higher than 10 on the TSDS were defined as the threshold for burnout.

Data showed high rates of burnout overall, with a mean score of 30.58 among all trainees in the study, as well as high rates of depersonalization, with a mean score of 11.83 among all participants.

There was also a correlation found between burnout and discrimination-based trauma in trainees. Higher scores on the TSDS were found to be positively correlated with overall burnout (P = .001), emotional exhaustion (P < .001), and depersonalization (P = .058), showing that participants who experienced discrimination were more likely to experience higher rates of burnout.

No significant differences in burnout were found between surgical and non-surgical trainees. Surgeons were, however, found to have a higher rate of professional accomplishment compared with non-surgical trainees.

Further, data also showed that depersonalization increased as PGY year increased, and emotional exhaustion peaked during the PGY-2 year.

“This may highlight a dark point in the GME training hierarchy, as junior trainees are more responsible for tedious tasks while taking on more call and documentation burden,” said Vinaithirthan during the presentation.

The authors indicate that ongoing or future studies may look at burnout among male trainees and interventions in trainee burnout, specifically for those who have experienced trauma from discrimination.

Reference

1. Fainstad T, Heilman A, Shah P, Vinaithirthan V, Jones C, Mann A, Thurmon K. Discrimination-Based Trauma as a Risk Factor for Burnout Among Women Trainees in Medicine. Presented at: American Urological Association Annual Meeting, April 28-May 1, Chicago. Abstract LBA01-06

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