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.