Physician Burnout in a Rural Kansas Community

  • Domonique Marquez-Cunningham
  • Emily Lenherr
  • Emma Flynn
  • Joshua Warner
  • Rosey Zackula
  • William Cathcart-Rake
Keywords: professional burnout, rural population, job satisfaction, surveys and questionnaires

Abstract

Introduction

Physician wellness and burnout are topics of intense
discussion and study, however, less is known about rural physician
burnout. The aim of this study was to assess levels of physician
burnout in the rural Kansas community of Salina.

Methods

An electronic, confidential survey was conducted among
145 physicians with active privileges at the local health center and/or
surgical center. The survey included demographic features, practice
characteristics, and the abbreviated Maslach Burnout Inventory™
(aMBI). In addition, survey participants were invited to provide freetext
responses to questions concerning specific causes of burnout
and mechanisms to combat feelings of burnout.

Results

Of 145 invited, 76 physicians completed the survey. Thirty-
six respondents self-identified as primary care physicians, 22
as subspecialists, and 18 as surgeons. aMBI scores for emotional
exhaustion (EE), depersonalization (D) and personal accomplishment
(PA) ranged from 0 to 18. The mean EE score was 8.4 (SD =
4.9), mean D score was 4.8 (SD = 3.9), and mean PA score was 15.2
(SD = 2.8). Using tertiles, physician burnout (i.e., those in the first
tertile) for EE was 39% (30/76), D was 34% (26/76), and PA was
41% (31/75); 22% of physicians surveyed scored high on both EE
and D as measured by tertiles, suggestive of more serious burnout.
No significant differences in aMBI scores were observed for demographic
features or practice characteristics; physicians who worked
with medical students had higher PA scores. Contributing to burnout
were demands of documentation and difficult patient encounters,
while true time away might ameliorate rural physician burnout.

Conclusions

As measured by aMBI constructs, burnout is prevalent
among the responding rural physicians practicing in the Salina community.

Published
2019-11-26
Section
Original Research