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The American Society of Breast Surgeons.
Annals of Surgical Oncology

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Assessing Burnout and Professional Fulfillment in Breast Surgery: Results From a National Survey of the American Society of Breast Surgeons

Jennifer Q. Zhang MD, Luis Riba MD, Leo Magrini BSc, Aaron Fleishman MPH, Promise Ukandu BSc, Amulya Alapati MBBS, Tait Shanafelt MD, Ted A. James MD, MS, FACS
Breast Oncology
Volume 26, Issue 10 / October , 2019



Physician burnout is a well-recognized problem in health care that has a negative impact on professional well-being and quality of patient care. Rates of burnout in breast surgery are not well-defined. This study sought to understand the degree of burnout among breast surgeons and to identify factors that influence professional fulfillment.


All U.S. members of the American Society of Breast Surgeons with a valid email address were surveyed in October 2017. The results were anonymous, and the participants were blinded to the study hypothesis. The survey included 30 questions (16-item Professional Fulfillment Index [PFI] and 14-item demographics/practice patterns). Multivariable linear regressions were performed to assess overall burnout and high professional fulfillment.


Of the 2568 surveys delivered, 708 surveys were initiated, and 660 were completed. Among breast surgeons, 270 (41.3%) expressed burnout, whereas 281 (42.5%) reported high professional fulfillment. In the multivariable analysis, years in practice was inversely associated with burnout and positively correlated with professional fulfillment. Working more than 60 h per week was positively associated with burnout, and having more than 50% of practice dedicated to breast surgery correlated positively with fulfillment.


Approximately 4 of 10 breast surgeons have symptoms of burnout, whereas 4 of 10 surgeons report high professional fulfillment. Specific clinical practice conditions largely influence rates of burnout and professional fulfillment. The contributing factors identified in the study analysis may be useful in identifying breast surgeons at higher risk for burnout. The study findings also help to inform the design of interventions focused on the clinical practice environment to promote professional fulfillment and sustainability.

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