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Professional burnout is characterised by increased perception of emotional exhaustion (EE) and depersonalisation (DP) with a concomitantly decreased sense of personal accomplishment (PA).1 Burnout among physicians is common, particularly in trainees and early-career physicians. Among internal medicine (IM) trainees in particular, recent data suggests that burnout is present in approximately 30%–40% of postgraduate first-year trainees (PGY-1), reaching up to 80% by the PGY-2 year.2
Significant research has defined various contributors to development of burnout including workload, lack of social support and a sense of lacking autonomy among others.1 Aside from reported negative effects on patient care, some have even shown associations between burnout and depression, prevalent in approximately 50% of trainees with up to 8% reporting suicidality.3
Given this growing epidemic and what seems to be a particularly vulnerable period during postgraduate medical training, various interventions have been tested to decrease burnout. Initially thought to be promising, professionally led discussion groups, including but not limited to Balint-style groups, were successful in decreasing burnout in faculty physicians, but showed no efficacy in decreasing burnout among physician trainees.4
We hypothesised that the lack of success using professionally led groups among trainees may be due to the lack of shared experiences with the facilitator during this unique stage of forming a professional identity. In planning a novel intervention to address this topic, a survey of IM residents at our programme found that 80% would prefer a peer-led group to one that is professionally or faculty-led. As a result, we designed peer-facilitated small-group sessions to implement in the IM postgraduate training programme at our institution. With encouraging results from our pilot survey study of PGY-1 IM trainees, we employed the Reflect, Empathize, Analyze, and Discuss in Small Groups (READ-SG) Method in monthly, topic-based, peer-facilitated small groups to prospectively assess …
Contributors MA is the founder of The READ-SG programme, developed the READ-SG method and was responsible for overseeing the entirety of the research project including IRB approval, facilitator training, data collection, data analysis and manuscript writing. EG was the faculty mentor who oversaw the READ-SG programme, data collection/analysis and manuscript writing. AF was responsible for scheduling READing Groups, assisted with data collection and oversaw data analysis. SC, TB and JC were READing Group peer facilitators and were also responsible for data collection and manuscript writing. DC was the internal medicine residency training program director and assisted with READing Group session scheduling and implementation of educational programming. All authors are responsible for the final product being submitted and have significantly contributed to its submission.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.
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