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July 2015

Promoting Balance in the Lives of Resident Physicians: A Call to Action

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Surgery, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California
JAMA Surg. 2015;150(7):607-608. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2015.0257

As physicians, we spend a significant amount of time counseling our patients on how to live healthier lives. Ironically, as trainees and practicing physicians, we often do not prioritize our own physical and psychological health. Most residents go to work despite significant physical impairment and severe anxiety.1 Compared with population controls, residents are more likely to experience burnout and exhibit symptoms of depression.2 These problems persist into practice; a recent national survey3 found that 40% of surgeons were burnt out and that 30% had symptoms of depression. Another study4 reported that 6% of surgeons experienced suicidal ideation in the preceding 12 months. Perhaps most startling, there are roughly 300 to 400 physicians who die by suicide per year—the equivalent of 3 medical school graduating classes.5

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