Burning without burning out: A call to protect the calling of medicine

Miriam T Stewart, Janet R Serwint
Submitted: November, 2019

Physicians enter the field of medicine with a sense of calling to meet the needs of others. This sense of calling is a source of resilience and strength, inspiring physicians to defer their own needs in service to patients’ needs. When this trade-off becomes chronic, as it does in dysfunctional work environments, burnout can result and both physicians and patients suffer negative consequences. Some of the sources of physician distress, like exposure to suffering and involvement in medical errors, are inherent to medical practice, while others are the product of workplace inefficiencies and flaws in how the health care system functions. Individual physicians can cultivate strategies to maintain resilience in the face of medicine’s inherent challenges, while health care organizations work to reduce the systemic drivers of burnout and build cultures that support physicians to thrive. In this and next month’s issues, we offer eight articles on aspects of physician well-being with the goal of inspiring and empowering individuals and organizations to take actio