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A Piece of My Mind
July 24/31, 2018

Beyond Burnout

JAMA. 2018;320(4):343-344. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.9910

Just before dawn on a Sunday, I wake to a frightening declaration in my head: “I don’t want to be a doctor anymore.” I try these words on like they are foreign and dangerous. I don’t want to be a doctor anymore. To be the doctor I want to be, I should be, I want everyone to be, takes more of myself than I am willing to give, more than I even have left, certainly more than I can take away from her.

I creep out of bed and sit alone at my desk to consider it. Tinny drips from the shower faucet slit the blue-gray silence. I picture my energy as discreet quanta, finite expenditures like so many drops in a drain. Where has each bit gone?