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Burnout and the learning environment of anaesthetic trainees

Department of Anaesthesia and Perioperative Medicine, Monash Medical Centre, Melbourne, Victoria

Summary

Burnout has a high prevalence among healthcare workers and is increasingly recognised as an environmental problem rather than reflecting a personal inability to cope with work stress. We distributed an electronic survey, which included the Maslach Burnout Inventory Health Services Survey and a previously validated learning environment instrument, to 281 Victorian anaesthetic trainees. The response rate was 50%. We found significantly raised rates of burnout in two of three subscales. Ninety-one respondents (67%) displayed evidence of burnout in at least one domain, with 67 (49%) reporting high emotional exhaustion and 57 (42%) reporting high depersonalisation. The clinical learning environment tool demonstrated a significant negative correlation with burnout (r=-0.56, P <0.001). Burnout was significantly more common than when previously measured in Victoria in 2008 (62% versus 38%). Trainees rated examination preparation the most stressful aspect of the training program. There is a high prevalence of burnout among Victorian anaesthetic trainees. We have shown a significant correlation exists between the clinical learning environment measure and the presence of burnout. This correlation supports the development of interventions to improve the clinical learning environment, as a means to improve trainee wellbeing and address the high prevalence of burnout.

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