Letters to the Editor
We greatly appreciate the letter from Drs. West, Dyrbye, and Shanafelt about our report on burnout in medical school deans. They note that we state that only 2% of medical school deans exhibited high levels of burnout utilizing the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI). They emphasize that each subscale of the MBI, depersonalization, emotional exhaustion, and low personal accomplishment, should be considered separately.
The MBI states, “A high degree of burnout is reflected in high scores on the emotional exhaustion and depersonalization subscales and in low scores on the personal accomplishment subscale”1. In the conclusions of our article, we emphasize that “only 2% of deans who participated in the study exhibited high levels of burnout in all three subcomponents.” We agree that the subscales should also be considered separately and that our finding that 40% of deans had high emotional exhaustion scores and that 24% had high depersonalization scores is cause for concern. For that reason, the final section of our article describes approaches the deans have taken to reduce stress and the risk for burnout. Finally, we emphasized that the pattern we observed in deans is similar to that described by Hewlett and Luce2 in their assessment of individuals with “extreme jobs.” In our study, 82% of deans had moderate to high personal accomplishment; Hewlett and Luce found that most extreme-job holders say they love their jobs.
Steven G. Gabbe, MD
Senior vice president for health sciences, chief executive officer, The Ohio State University Medical Center, 370 West Tenth Avenue, Columbus, Ohio; (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Lynn Webb, PhD
Chief of staff, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee.
1Maslach C, Jackson SE, Leiter MP. Maslach Burnout Inventory Manual. 3rd ed. Palo Alto, Calif: Consulting Psychologists Press; 1996.
2Hewlett SA, Luce CB. Extreme jobs: The dangerous allure of the 70-hour workweek. Harv Bus Rev. 2006;84:49–59.