Few experiences in the course of medical training are as galvanizing
as the period during which trainees make the transition between student and
practicing physician. Residency forms the core of a physician’s identity
and provides the fundamental cognitive and procedural skills that define a
career. Unfortunately, for many residents there may be no near-celestial experiences,
and tears that are shed during the first year may not represent regret for
its conclusion. In this issue of JAMA, Thomas2 addresses burnout within residency training programs,
an alarmingly underrecognized and understudied phenomenon common among trainees.
Her systematic review attempts to describe the prevalence of resident burnout;
clarify the role of demographics, work characteristics, and personality in
its development; and assess its impact on resident health and well-being and
on performance in patient care. What is very striking in this review is the
general methodological weakness of the evidence addressing this important
problem, leaving as many questions as answers.
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