Burnout is an occupational hazard for physicians at all stages of training and medical practice. The purpose of the current study was to determine whether residency factors, with the use of an activity monitor, including the amount of exercise, have any impact on burnout among orthopaedic surgery residents in varying years of training.
Orthopaedic residents at a single institution were recruited immediately before beginning a new clinical rotation and followed for four weeks. On enrollment, the participants were given a wrist-worn activity monitor (Fitbit Flex) and instructed on its use for tracking physical activity. REDCap was used to collect burnout levels (as assessed by using the Maslach Burnout Inventory and the Patient Health Questionnaire-9), which were completed a total of five times, once at enrollment and weekly during the study period.
Twenty-seven residents were enrolled, including 13 junior residents (interns and second years) and 14 senior residents (third, fourth, and fifth years). Seven residents were on fracture rotations, whereas 20 were not. As measured by using the Maslach Burnout Inventory, juniors were more emotionally exhausted (P = 0.01) and depersonalized (P = 0.027). No difference in the objective physical activity data as measured by using the Fitbit Flex and no difference in the self-reported hours of sleep were observed. Residents on orthopaedic trauma rotations also reported significantly higher rates of emotional exhaustion and depersonalization (P < 0.001) than other residents and were more physically active on average (P < 0.030).
Although depersonalization and depression are common symptoms seen among orthopaedic surgery residents, this study demonstrated that quality of life improves markedly as they progress through their residency training. Residents on orthopedic trauma rotations have greater levels of emotional exhaustion and depersonalization. This pilot study suggests that burnout prevention programs should begin at the start of training to provide residents with strategies to combat and then reinforced while on orthopaedic trauma rotations.
Level of Evidence:
Level III Diagnostic Study