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Promoting and Preserving Careers in Women’s Health through Wellness: A Shared Responsibility

[ Vol. 13 , Issue. 2 ]


Susan Zweizig* and Joanna M. Cain   Pages 114 - 120 ( 7 )


Background: Physician burnout is increasing in prevalence across all medical and surgical specialties and is associated with significant decline in the physical and mental health of providers as well as early retirement from the practice of medicine. There are factors unique to women’s health that put its providers at significantly increased risk for burnout including the preponderance of female providers and the practice settings, compensation, and call responsibilities inherent in our specialty.

As an example, obstetrics is a rapidly changing and medically complex world where providers do not have control over every outcome. Providers work long hours in an unpredictable and at-times chaotic environment where complex and difficult decisions need to be made under significant time pressure at all hours. The lack of priority of women’s health within our health systems combined with a constant threat of litigation leads to distress and detachment in providers.

Objectives: This article explores the components of burnout, risk factors and workplace issues contributing to its increase. The variation in stressors between different disciplines such as maternal fetal medicine, gynecologic oncology, and abortion providers is also discussed including the toll resulting from responsibility for both medical and surgical care of the patient, death and political biases.

Conclusion: Individual strategies including interventions such as commitment to self-care, contemplative practices, management of office flow and establishing peer support are discussed. Burnout is a systemic problem and strategies for its prevention burnout at the individual, departmental and institutional level are explored.


Burnout, physician wellness, physician work environment, early retirement, self care, work-life balance.


Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA 01605, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA 01605

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