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AAP helps pediatricians avoid burnout with updated guidance

In a recent report, the American Academy of Pediatrics outlined how burnout affects pediatricians and what steps pediatricians can take to avoid burnout.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently provided updated guidance on physician wellness, in which they discussed burnout among pediatricians.

Pediatricians are not immune to burnout, according to the AAP. The COVID-19 pandemic has only added stressors which make burnout more likely. To combat these stressors, the AAP outlined efforts in an updated report, “Physician Health and Wellness.”

The report stated that all pediatric disciplines saw an increase in rates of burnout from 2011 to 2014. Burnout rates increased from 35.3% to 46.3%.

“The weight of caring for children who are chronically ill, disabled, maltreated, neglected, or otherwise medically vulnerable can take a toll over time,” said Hilary H. McClafferty, MD, FAAP, lead author of the report. “This can lead to overlapping symptoms of compassion fatigue, secondary traumatic stress, vicarious traumatization, moral distress, countertransference, and ultimately burnout”

McClafferty also noted that most pediatricians are women, and that female physicians have been reported to experience burnout more often than male physicians. Research on the impact of race, gender, ethnicity, and other factors on burnout is still ongoing. Gaps in the response from health care systems have been noted following the COVID-19 pandemic.

In combating burnout, the AAP recommends social support, creating individual awareness and resilience measures, and treating mental and physical conditions which may be unaddressed. Structured debriefing between the medical team following challenging experiences was stressed in the report.

The AAP also suggested healthy lifestyle, vacation time, developing a hobby, gratitude practice, supportive social network, a personal mission statement, and exploring mind-body practices.

“There is often a stigma with seeking help, even among those we typically consider as the helpers,” McClafferty said. “We must work together to make sure physicians are given the respect, privacy and opportunity to be heard without stigma or professional penalty and continue to advocate for the wellbeing of physicians at every stage of training and practice.”

Reference

American Academy of Pediatrics releases updated guidance on physician wellness. American Academy of Pediatrics. October 24, 2022. Accessed October 24, 2022. https://www.aap.org/en/news-room/news-releases/aap/2022/american-academy-of-pediatrics-releases-updated-guidance-on-physician-wellness/