Resident Corner: Working for Wellness

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POSTED IN: EPIC - The Official Newsletter of MOCEP, July/August 2017,

Written by Kayla Donnawell, MD, PGY-3, Saint Louis University

Physician burnout is a problem that disproportionately affects Emergency Medicine Physicians. Burnout is “a syndrome characterized by a loss of enthusiasm for work (emotional exhaustion), feeling of cynicism (depersonalization), and a low sense of personal accomplishment.”1 In Medscape’s 2017 Lifestyle Report, 59% of EM physicians report burnout,2 an increase from 55% in the 2016 report.3 This growing problem has received devoted attention on multiple levels.

Emergency medicine conferences have been including an increasing number of wellness events. MOCEP brought our first ever wellness event to the Tom Steele conference this year.  EM practice groups are hosting wellness events for their physicians. Residency programs are incorporating wellness education into the traditional curriculum.

These are essential first steps to re-engage and energize EM physicians; we educate our patients, let us also educate ourselves about work-life balance. By educating physicians about physician burnout, we have the opportunity to prevent burnout instead of compensating for it. On local, state and national levels EM professional have stood up for wellness. Ask yourself what it will take for you to stand up for your own wellness. I challenge you to take on one new initiative that will bring a little happiness into your life for this next month. It all starts with a small change, and small changes can make a big difference.


  1. Shanafelt TD, Boone S, Tan L, et al. Burnout and satisfaction with work‐life balance among US physicians relative to the general US population. Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(18):1377‐1385.
  2.  Peckman, C (2017) Medscape Lifestyle Report 2017: Race and Ethnicity, Bias and Burnout. Retrieved from Medscape:
  3. Peckman, C (2016). Medscape Lifestyle Report 2016: Bias and Burnout. Retrieved from Medscape: