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Shorter rotations cut doc burnout: study


By Jaimy Lee
Posted: December 11, 2012 - 12:15 pm ET
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Shorter rotations for attending physicians reduced burnout and emotional exhaustion without leading to an increase in unplanned patient revisits, according to a new study.

The study, published this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association, compared two-week and four-week inpatient rotations for 62 attending physicians at a teaching hospital in 2009.

Attending physicians have traditionally been assigned to trainees for four weeks, but the "projected trend" is toward shorter rotations.

The researchers indicated in the study that shorter rotations did not affect patients and had better benefits for the physician. However, house staff and medical students gave attending physicians lower scores in their ability to evaluate trainees during a two-week rotation.

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"Both trainees and educational leaders have decried short rotations as disruptive because they truncate student-teacher relationships," wrote Dr. Brian Lucas, a physician with Cook County Health and Hospitals System in Chicago and the study's author. "Shorter rotations may nonetheless benefit the psychological health of attending physicians, whose responsibilities are oversubscribed."

The study reported little difference between two- and four-week rotations in the number of unplanned patient revisits within 30 days and the average length of a patient's hospital stay.

In addition, the attending physicians reported lower levels of burnout severity and emotional exhaustion during a shorter rotation.

As a result of the study, attending physicians at the three-hospital Cook County Health and Hospitals System now choose between two- and four-week rotations.


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