Canadian Medical Association

Physician burnout is one of the most significant challenges facing the health care system. It threatens the well-being of clinicians, residents and medical students, which can affect the quality of care given to patients. Healthy physicians mean healthy patients. 

There is no single cause of burnout. It usually occurs due to a combination of individual and organizational factors.

What is burnout? 

The Maslach Burnout Inventory Manual says “burnout is a psychological syndrome of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and reduced personal accomplishment.”

The resources gathered here explore how physicians can guard against burnout. They also include advice for health care administrators on how to reduce burnout in their workplaces.

Fast facts

According to our 2021 National Physician Health Survey:

  • More than 1 in 2 physicians and residents report high levels of burnout. 
  • Respondents with 20 years or less in practice are significantly more likely to be experiencing burnout compared to those late in their career (over 30 years): those who have been practising five or less years (62%), six to 10 years (68%), and 11 to 20 years (60%) vs. over 30 years (32%).
  • Burnout is significantly higher among women (59% vs. 43% of men). The increase in burnout since 2017 is much higher among women (+26 percentage points from 2017 vs. +14 percentage points among men).
  • The prevalence of burnout is significantly higher among respondents in general practice/family medicine (57%) compared with physicians practising in other/administration positions (40%).

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