The impact of practicing obstetrics on burnout among early-career family physicians

Tyler Barreto, Aimee Eden, Audrey Brock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: According to a previous study, obstetric deliveries may be protective against burnout for family physicians. Analyses of interviews conducted during a larger qualitative study about the experiences of early-career family physicians who intended to include obstetric deliveries in their practice revealed that many interviewees discussed burnout. This study aimed to understand the relationship between practicing obstetrics and burnout based on an analysis of these emerging data on burnout. METHODS: We conducted semistructured interviews with physicians who grad-uated from family medicine residency programs in the United States between 2013 and 2016. We applied an immersion-crystallization approach to analyze transcribed interviews. RESULTS: Fifty-six early-career family physicians participated in interviews. Burnout was an emerging theme. Physicians described how practicing obstetrics can protect from burnout (eg, brings joy to practice, diversity in practice), how it can contribute to burnout (eg, time demands, increased stress), how it can do both simultaneously and the importance of professional agency (ie, the capacity to make own free choices), and other sources of burnout (eg, admin-istrative tasks, complex patients). CONCLUSIONS: This study identifies a family medicine-obstetric paradox wherein obstetrics can simultaneously protect from and contribute to burnout for family physicians. Professional agency may partially explain this paradox.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)408-413
Number of pages6
JournalFamily medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Family Practice


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