Combating Burnout with Shorter Rotations

A new study revealed that shorter rotations for attending physicians can reduce burnout, which affects physicians more than other adult workers in the U.S.

Job burnout is a huge issue in the medical community since it affects physicians more than other adult workers in the U.S. A new study revealed that shorter rotations for attending physicians can reduce burnout.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association compared two-week and four-week inpatient attending physician rotations at a teaching hospital. The study looked at the differing effects these two rotations had on patient revisits, attending evaluations by trainees and the propensity for burnout among attending physicians.

The study’s authors took 62 attending physicians who staffed at least six weeks of inpatient service and assigned them to random sequences of two- and four-week rotations.

Primarily, the study was looking to see unplanned revisits for patients discharged. One of the secondary outcomes was burnout propensity. The study found that 16% of physicians on a two-week rotation reported burnout compared to 35% of physicians on the four-week rotation. Physicians on the shorter rotation were also less likely to report emotional exhaustion (19% vs. 37%). But there were trade-offs that resulted from the shorter rotations.

“The use of two-week inpatient attending physician rotations compared with four-week rotations did not result in an increase in unplanned patient revisits,” the authors wrote. “It was associated with better self-rated measures of attending physician burnout and emotional exhaustion but worse evaluations by trainees.

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JAMA study