Burnout, Intent to Leave, and Fulfillment Rates in Ophthalmology

MAY 06, 2019
Patrick Campbell
A recent study, presented at the 2019 Annual Meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, found that professional fulfillment among ophthalmologists is high, but more than a third of residents expressed an intent to leave the specialty.

Based on survey responses, investigators found that 38.5% of ophthalmology residents had an intent-to-leave the training specialty but ophthalmology faculty had 77% greater odds of experiencing professional fulfillment compared to other fields.

To determine the prevalence of burnout, intent-to-leave, and professional fulfillment among ophthalmologists, investigators used responses from an electronic survey sent to all practicing physicians at institutions participating in the Physicians Wellness Academic Consortium (PWAC) from Jan. 2016 through Sept. 2018.

Data was aggregated and deidentified by the PWAC prior to release and findings from the survey were compared to all surgical fields from the same study. Overall, there was a response rate of 63%.

Among ophthalmology faculty, the burnout rate was 31.9% and 26.4% expressed an intention to leave their institution, while 57.1% reported a feeling of professional fulfillment. Compared to all other surgical fields, ophthalmology faculty had similar rates of burnout (31.9% versus 32.8%), lower intent-to-leave rates (26.4% versus 30%), and higher rates of professional fulfillment (57.1% versus 49.7%).

Logistic regression adjusting for gender and burnout level demonstrated ophthalmology faculty had 77% greater odds of professional fulfillment compared to other surgical fields.

Among ophthalmology residents, the burnout rate was 21.4% and 38.5% expressed an intention to leave the specialty, while 57.1% reported a feeling of professional fulfillment. Compared to other surgical fields, ophthalmology residents had significantly lower rates of burnout (24.1% versus 48.8%) and higher rates of professional fulfillment (57.1% versus 33.8%). The intent-to-leave rate was more than triple compared to other fields (38.5% versus 10.5%). In their conclusion, authors noted that the elevated intent-to-leave rates among ophthalmology residents was concerning.  

This study, titled "Burnout, Professional Fulfillment and Intent-to-Leave Among Ophthalmologists: A National Study," was presented at ARVO 2019

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