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NYTimes article on medical student burnout

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posted on Nov, 4 2008 @ 05:28 AM

But beyond the personal implications, what are the ramifications of medical student burnout for patients?

In a third study, Dr. Dyrbye found that when tested for empathy, medical students at baseline generally scored higher than their nonmedical peers. But, as medical students experienced more burnout, there was a corresponding drop in the level of empathy toward patients.


I found this to be a very interesting, and disturbing, article about burnout rates in medical school.

I'm starting to get very interested in the places where our health care system is obviously failing, and I think this is a big one. Not that this is new – the article talks about doctors who were friends in medical school while all three were miserable, but didn't even let each other know how bad it was until 20 years later.

If that's how we ask medical students to treat themselves – as though any admission of distress is an acknowledgement that they are not worthy – is it any wonder that so many doctors treat their patients with condescension?

Plus, this leaves them in a very frightened, insecure, defensive mindset as they emerge from medical school and face pressure from insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies to put the bottom line ahead of their patients' health.

Conspiracy? I don't think so, although I don't doubt that corporations use this knowledge to their advantage. But definitely a sign of a broken system that's wide open for corruption.

posted on Nov, 4 2008 @ 11:04 AM
A great article!

I have always found empathy in the theater of medicine to be very one sided. Obviously the presumption that someone in need of care will need a hand psychologically weighs heavily on everyone's minds, but the man behind the "glasses" is human too.

I'm aware the article deals with med school, I can't help but wonder though, at the extent at which this refers to professional practitioners also. I worked part-time next to a dialysis clinic over here, it was an emotional roller-coaster for all involved. Essentially aside from the obvious and justified distress of patients, the doctors also were very much emotionally tangled with their patients. There is a sense of co-existing, almost like being room-mates, because surely enough 3-4 times a week they would be.

I witnessed many a burnout on behalf of doctors, who stood accused of being inhuman, and this accusation then became a mirror they lived within, causing a tremendous loss of self esteem.

I will never take a practitioner's empathy for granted, for it bears a cost to them as well.

Thanks for sharing ADB!

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