Burnout, Not Otherwise Specified: Defining, Addressing Rheumatologist Burnout

Originally published in Helio Rheumatology

Across the country, practicing physicians are experiencing increasing levels of burnout, and rheumatologists are no different, according to national data and experts in the field.

Burnout — which occurs when work or personal pressures exceed an individual’s ability to cope with them — can manifest as physical and mental responses. Long-term, unaddressed burnout among clinicians can have devastating consequences, including chronic health conditions, emotional exhaustion, cynicism, a low sense of professional accomplishment, diminished quality of care and increased likelihood of early retirement.

Reasons for burnout are as myriad as there are physicians describing the problem. However, some of the most common culprits include the rise of electronic health records and a perceived distancing away from what many physicians see as their primary role — patient care.

“Rheumatologists treat patients with chronic and complex diseases,” Colin C. Edgerton, MD, FACP, chairman of the American College of Rheumatology Committee on Rheumatologic Care, and partner at Articularis Healthcare, which has practices in South Carolina and Georgia, told Healio Rheumatology. “It is particularly difficult to manage these complex patients in an environment that does not value the cognitive workload involved.”

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