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Editor's Correspondence
April 22, 2013

Physician Burnout: An Urgent Call for Early Intervention—Reply

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota

JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(8):710-711. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.3791

In reply

The thoughtful letters in response to our article1 each raise important questions regarding (1) why physician burnout develops and (2) what can be done do to prevent it? Factors contributing to burnout include lack of control and/or autonomy, loss of meaning from work, inefficient use of time, excessive workload, challenges with work-life balance, and poor career fit.2 There are certainly other contributors as well, as suggested in the letters. For example, compulsive personality traits are characteristic of many physicians.3 These qualities can cause physicians to have difficulty relaxing, have a sense of responsibility for things they do not control, and be constantly focused on work, even when away from the hospital.3 However, these traits are also part of what makes physicians good at what they do, resulting in dedication, attention to detail, and recognition of the trust patients place in physicians and the attendant responsibility.3 Accordingly, rather than “deselecting” physicians with these traits, physicians should be taught to recognize both the constructive and destructive aspects of these qualities and to develop strategies to mitigate the negative aspects.

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