Burnout in Rural Physician Assistants: An Initial Study

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Abstract

Purpose

To assess the prevalence and causes of burnout in rural physician assistants. (PA in this article refers to personal accomplishment. To avoid confusion, we will spell out physician assistant throughout the article, instead of using PA to refer to both physician assistant and personal accomplishment.)

Methods

Physician assistants who practice in rural communities were asked to complete the Maslach Burnout Inventory. A preliminary assessment of burnout was determined using the 3 Maslach Burnout Inventory subscale scores: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and personal accomplishment, as well as causes of burnout assessed for a correlation to personal and professional factors.

Results

Burnout within the rural physician assistant population as recorded by those responding to this survey (response rate = 11.3%) was measured to have high to moderate emotional exhaustion and depersonalization subscores (64% each) and a low to moderate personal accomplishment subscore (46%).

Conclusions

The rural physician assistant population who responded to this survey exhibited burnout correlating to feelings of professional isolation and various workplace conditions such as the adequacy of administrative support and control over workload. To begin addressing burnout within this community, we suggest adjusting rural physician assistant workload and support, enhancing professional communications, and addressing burnout prevention techniques within physician assistant training programs.

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