Radiology Residents Score Low in ‘Personal Accomplishment’

July 25, 2017

Many radiology residents do not feel a sense of personal accomplishment and experience increasing burnout rates as they move through their residency program.

The rate of burnout appears to increase among radiology residents as they move through their post-graduate years, according to a study published in the American Journal of Roentgenology.

Researchers from Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA, sought to establish the prevalence of burnout among radiology residents in New England relative to residents in other specialties.

The researchers sent out a 31-item survey to all resident members of the New England Roentgen Ray Society, covering 20 programs and 472 residents. The survey contained nine demographic and program-related questions and the 22-item Maslach Burnout Inventory–Health Services Survey. The researchers calculated the emotional exhaustion (EE), depersonalization (DP), and personal accomplishment (PA), which were then compared with the results of residents from other specialties.

Ninety-four residents (20%) returned their responses, most of which came from first-year residents (31 replies). Twenty-six second-year residents, 19 third-year residents, and 26 fourth-year residents also replied. Almost half of the residents (41) were 30 to 32 years old.

The results showed that of the 94 responses, 37% reported high EE, 48% reported high DP, and 50% reported low PA scores. The EE, DP, and PA scores and rates were low relative to those reported across specialties. Increasing residency year correlated with high EE and high DP, and no other factor significantly correlated with burnout.

The researchers concluded that the high degree of burnout among radiology residents increased over the post-graduate years, but was present in a smaller percentage relative to residents across other specialties. Radiology residents score relatively poorly in PA and therefore addressing PA may be central to improving burnout symptoms overall.