Even before the coronavirus crisis, the topic of burnout dominated discussions about the state of our health professions workforce, particularly as it pertains to physicians but not limited to them. The preponderance of reports has been descriptive, focusing on symptoms and speculating widely on causes. Many health care systems have responded by implementing measures to improve the personal resilience of their workforce. Initiatives for health care workers range from work site drop-in rooms for emotional decompression to team meetings focused on improving mutual support. “Happiness” committees have been formed to sponsor social events; some even offer massage therapy and meditation classes. At issue is the extent to which the emphasis on boosting caregiver resilience represents the best strategy for dealing with burnout among physicians and other health care professionals. The acute and unprecedented stress on physicians during the coronavirus pandemic tests even the most resilient among us, but it does not obscure the question of whether burnout requires giving priority to boosting resilience or to correcting the practice environment.
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Goroll AH. Addressing Burnout—Focus on Systems, Not Resilience. JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(7):e209514. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.9514
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