The Prevalence of Faculty Physician Burnout in Military Graduate Medical Education Training Programs: A Cross-Sectional Study of Academic Physicians in the United States Department of Defense

Shane M. Summers, Christopher J. Nagy, Michael D. April, Brandon W. Kuiper, Rechell G. Rodriguez, Woodson S. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

In military populations, physician burnout has potential to adversely affect medical readiness to deploy in support of joint operations. Burnout among Graduate Medical Education (GME) faculty may further threaten the welfare of the medical force given the central role these officers have in training and developing junior physicians. The primary aim of this investigation was to estimate the prevalence of burnout among faculty physicians in United States (US) Army, Navy, and Air Force GME programs. Materials and Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study of faculty physicians at US military GME training programs between January 2018 and July 2018. Through direct coordination with Designated Institutional Officials, we administered the Maslach Burnout Inventory Health Services Survey (MBI-HSS) via online web link to faculty physicians listed in Accreditation Data System at each sponsoring institution. In addition to the MBI-HSS, we collected demographic data and queried physicians about common occupational stressors in order to assist institutional leaders with identifying at-risk physicians and developing future interventions to address burnout. Results: Sixteen of 21 institutions that currently sponsor military GME programs agreed to distribute the MBI-HSS survey to core faculty. We received completed assessments from 622 of the 1,769 (35.1%) reported physician core faculty at these institutions. Of the 622 physician respondents, 162 demonstrated high levels of emotional exhaustion and depersonalization for an estimated 26% prevalence of burnout. We identified only one independent risk factor for burnout: increasing numbers of deployments (OR 1.38, 95% CI 1.07-1.77). Physicians in our cohort who reported a desire to stay beyond their initial active duty service obligation were less likely to be classified with burnout (OR 0.45, 95% CI 0.26-0.77). The most common drivers of occupational distress were cumbersome bureaucratic tasks, insufficient administrative support, and overemphasis on productivity metrics. Conclusions: We estimate that 26% of physician faculty in military GME programs are experiencing burnout. No specialty, branch of service, or specific demographic was immune to burnout in our sample. Institutional leaders in the MHS should take action to address physician burnout and consider using our prevalence estimate to assess effectiveness of future interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E519-E527
JournalMilitary medicine
Volume184
Issue number9-10
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2 2019
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Burnout
  • Faculty
  • Fellowship
  • GME
  • Military
  • Physician
  • Residency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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