The health care environment—with its packed workdays, demanding pace, time pressures, and emotional intensity—can put physicians and other clinicians at high risk for burnout. Burnout is a long-term stress reaction marked by emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a lack of sense of personal accomplishment. In recent years, the rising prevalence of burnout among clinicians (over 50 percent in some studies) has led to questions on how it affects access to care, patient safety, and care quality. Burned-out doctors are more likely to leave practice, which reduces patients’ access to and continuity of care. Burnout can also threaten patient safety and care quality when depersonalization leads to poor interactions with patients and when burned-out physicians suffer from impaired attention, memory, and executive function.
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