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Physician burnout syndrome

Hui Wang was a Chinese doctor—ophthalmologist. His age was 32 years old when he had a fever and continued to work six successive days, without taking a rest because of work overload. The result was his death with a sudden cardiac arrest. He died because he could not give his body the chance to recover; he died because of work stress.

Hui Wang was not the first case to die because of work stress. Many doctors experienced the same story—in china and other countries.

A medical condition is the major reason for this result, known as physician burnout syndrome.

Physician Burnout Syndrome

What is physician burnout syndrome?

In 1970, Herbert Freudenberg, American psychologist, identified physician burnout syndrome: a state of mental exhaustion caused by one’s professional life. So, it is a syndrome that comes from work-stress because of the poor management of the institution.

Characteristics of physician burnout syndrome

Many physicians may experience these symptoms without being aware of their syndrome.

So, every doctor must know physician burnout syndrome symptoms, which includes:

  • Mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion
  • Loss of hope and negative feeling including reduced personal accomplishment
  • Energy depletion
  • A decline in work performance, which may cause poor clinical decisions, reduced efficacy, and poor patient care
  • Loss of passion toward work and loss of empathy toward patients.

Reasons for physician burnout syndrome

The primary reason is the loss of work-life balance. When we lose this balance, we suffer from physical, mental, and emotional stress, with a loss in our spiritual energy.

Other reasons include:

  • Work over-load
  • Excessive working hours
  • Poor work process and management system
  • Electronic medical record, which causes stress to physicians
  • Hard decisions related to patient cases.

Actually, physician burnout syndrome is not an individual problem, but organizations and society have a dominant role in it.


Unfortunately, the results of physician burnout syndrome are catastrophic. It affects the physician, the patient, and the organization as well, which may cause:

  • Increase the rate of errors: diagnostic errors, medication errors, and decision-making errors.
  • A decrease in the patient care level
  • Patient dissatisfaction
  • Loss of physician productivity
  • Increase physician absenteeism and job dissatisfaction
  • Increase physician turnover
  • Physician drug and alcohol abuse
  • Physician suicide


As soon as you know the reasons, you can take your preventive measures, which is mainly depending on creating a work-life balance.

To achieve this balance, take care of your physical status, emotional status, and spiritual status, for example:

  • To increase your physical energy, eat well, rest, and exercise
  • Your emotional energy needs a healthy relationship with the people you love: your family and your friends.

Besides, try to find supporters in your career as they will help you overcome difficulties. Also, you should know how to deal with the stress.

In summary, most people never forget to charge their mobile, but they forget to charge themselves. For this reason, burnout syndrome is not just related to physicians, but it can affect any employee who cannot achieve a work-life balance.

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