Addressing Burnout among Women Residents: Results from Focus Group Discussions




burnout, women physicians, residents, graduate medical education


Introduction. Physician burnout has been described as more common among women than men.  Even if there are no gender-based differences in prevalence, risk factors, such as work/home integration/conflict and gendered biases, likely differ.  Prior administrations of an annual resident wellness survey at a single urban academic institution confirmed that rates of burnout were higher among women, especially during the PGY-2 year. 

Methods.  A series of focus groups of women PGY-3 residents across specialties were organized in 2019 at a single urban academic medical center.  Given the number of participants, demographics were not collected to maintain participant anonymity.  The moderator for all groups used a discussion guide consisting of eight open-ended questions based on a review of the literature.

Results.  Ten residents agreed to participate in one of four, hour-long focus group discussions.  While the residents identified some factors that were not gender-specific, they also discussed issues that they faced as women in medicine, including needing to work harder to prove themselves and unconscious gendered biases from faculty and patients.  The residents thought that their wellbeing would be improved if their training programs better understood the experiences and needs of women residents and recommended a series of interventions, including improved mentoring and networking opportunities. 

Conclusions. Interventions to improve wellbeing need to consider gender-based differences.  While mentoring and networking can help all residents, these may be especially useful for women and should be considered as a component of an overarching plan to improve diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.     


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Original Research

How to Cite

Norvell, J., Unruh, G., Norvell, T., & Templeton, K. (2023). Addressing Burnout among Women Residents: Results from Focus Group Discussions . Kansas Journal of Medicine, 16(1), 83-87.