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Are you at risk of burn out? There is a common assumption that a doctor would have the highest degree health due to their occupation and standing in the community however this is not always the case. We believe this is less of an issue in Australia however it still can happen. We explore some of the reasons for burn out.


  • According to a BMJ Study, Doctors are more prone to mental health conditions more than any other profession. Burnout is described as a deadening of emotion and feeling detached from patients and colleagues
  • Doctor burnout is increasingly common all around the world:
    • United Kingdom: Thousands of GPs in the NHS have sought professional help and only one in five graduates are choosing to become a GP. A BMJ study in 2011 found that a third of doctors have a mental health disorder.
    • America: A survey of 15,000 medical practitioners found that 42% felt burnout whilst 12% were suffering depression. The second highest level of burnout was seen among GPs. New York University is now actually offering free tuition to those wanting to train in lower paying specialties to increase numbers
    • New Zealand: A report into hospital based doctors found that 50% of doctors were suffering burnout or depression symptoms

Are you suffering from Burn out?

The symptoms of doctor burnout according to the Royal College of Australasian of Physicians are:

  • Emotional exhaustion
  • Cynicism
  • Perceived clinical ineffectiveness
  • Sense of depersonalisation in relationships with co-workers, patients or both
  • A study has also found that the most empathetic doctors have the lowest rate of burn out as they are lacking that person to person communication and the ability to engage

Common Causes

  • The pressure of dealing with patients psychological and social problems
  • Fear of making mistakes and fear of audits
  • Financial pressures from practice owners
  • The lack of a collegial environment
  • The constant learning requirements

Burn out during your internship

Interestingly medical students making the transition at the end of their education face burn out due to:

  • Exposure to patient suffering
  • The seeming impossibility of reconciling family and personal demands
  • Complexity of leaving their medical career if they feel they are not suited to it

How to reduce burn out

  • Find a practice with a good team and make sure to socialize with other GPs (such as at Alecto Connect events)
  • Be open and talk about vulnerability and illness with others to feel less isolated
  • Ensure your practice has fantastic management support
  • Stay involved with your professional development and work on your areas of interest, keep it interesting!