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Connecting Personal Accomplishment with Burnout Amongst Radiology Residents

Residents are under a lot of pressure, and they’re typically expected to work 80 hours a week and 28-hour long shifts. These unwavering high demands can result in disastrous burnout. A new study published in Academic Radiology found that despite the exhausting workload, residents can achieve a sense of personal accomplishment (PA) with ample peer and educator-promoted resources.

Jeffrey P. Guenette, MD, and Stacy E. Smith, MD, two radiologists from Brigham and Women’s Hospital who conducted the study, surveyed over 300 residents on their perspectives of professional development and burnout. There was a notable gender disparity amongst the participants, with 69 percent of them being male and 31 percent were female. The researchers scored the residents on their responses, and the average PA score was 35.6. Thirty-four was considered the standard low score.

Guenette and Smith found that the residents’ sense of PA improved when they receive regular constructive feedback that focuses on “personal growth and development.” They also discovered that resident-only conferences and other social opportunities geared toward residents encouraged supportive behavior amongst residents. Residents also appreciated hearing that their hard work was valued. “The skills and knowledge that I am building are important and helpful to society” was a commonly reiterated statement in the survey. Department leaders can strengthen this sentiment by promoting individual resident’s “clinical and research efforts,” urge the authors.

The study didn’t eliminate room for bias, as they didn’t take into account certain personal factors, like the residents’ finances. However, they do note that PA scores were much lower for single residents in comparison to married or partnered participants.

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