Finding a job elsewhere, transferring out of one fellowship to another or leaving medicine altogether are options that may not seem favorable but may become necessary to prevent or reverse burnout. As mentioned earlier, burnout is something that demands a strong defense, and sometimes tactical retreat is the only option.
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Burnout is clearly something that most physicians are uncomfortable talking about. There is a connotation of weakness and mental illness that is borne of misconceptions. There’s a medicolegal aspect as well that prevents physicians from speaking out against hostile work environments that lead to burnout. But we have to talk about it. We have to talk about it because letting burnout occur to physicians privately and in isolation leads to tragic consequences for our profession, our specialty and our patients at large.
Bharat Kumar, MD, is a second-year fellow at the University of Iowa pursuing a dual-certification pathway in rheumatology and allergy/immunology. Dr. Kumar has a special interest in medical education, journalism and ethics. Follow him on Twitter @BharatKumarMD and check out his website.