To Care Is Human – Collectively Confronting the Clinician-Burnout Crisis

Dzau, V.J., Kirch, D.G., Nasca, T.J.
Submitted: January, 2018

The ethical principles that guide clinical care — a commitment to benefiting the patient, avoiding harm, respecting patient autonomy, and striving for justice in health care — affirm the moral foundation and deep meaning underlying many clinicians’ view of their profession as a worthy and gratifying calling. It is clear, however, that owing to the growing demands, burdensome tasks, and increasing stress experienced by many clinicians, alarmingly high rates of burnout, depression, and suicide threaten their well-being. More than half of U.S. physicians report significant symptoms of burnout — a rate more than twice that among professionals in other fields. Moreover, we know that the problem starts early. Medical students and residents have higher rates of burnout and depression than their peers who are pursuing nonmedical careers. Nor is the trend limited to physicians: nurses also experience alarming rates of burnout.1 Clinicians are human, and it takes a personal toll on them when circumstances make it difficult to fulfill their ethical commitments and deliver the best possible care.

Resource Type:
  • Commentaries & Blogs
  • HCO
  • Burnout, Well-being, & Professionalism
  • Patient-Centered