A different way of looking at burnout
We’ve been paying attention to the wrong statistic in burnout (“Physician burnout rates vary by specialty,” Dec. 9, p. 35). The mean (percentage) burnout rate is not as illuminating as the range.
Having now studied multiple hospital systems we find high variability in the same specialties between systems—in other words, pediatricians at System 1 may be far more likely to be burned out than pediatricians at System 2. Even nurses doing the same jobs on similar units in the same hospitals may have widely different burnout rates.
The problem with attending to the mean is that it suggests that there is something inherent to that specialty that matters. While partially true, it misses the more important take-home—the practice details—which are neither immutable nor unchangeable, matter and can be improved.
Dan Shapiro Vice dean for faculty and administrative affairs Penn State Health Principal Burnout Solutions Group