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Eval Program Plann. 2017 Dec;65:106-112. doi: 10.1016/j.evalprogplan.2017.07.006. Epub 2017 Jul 22.

Finding the sweet spot: Developing, implementing and evaluating a burn out and compassion fatigue intervention for third year medical trainees.

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Community Palliative Care Physician, 316-1500 Bank St. Ottawa, ON K1H 1B8, Canada. Electronic address:
Bruyère Continuing Care, Regional Palliative Care Consultation Service, 43 Bruyere St., Ottawa, ON K1N 5C8, Canada. Electronic address:
Bruyère Research Institute, Palliative Care Education and Research, 43 Bruyere St., Ottawa, ON K1N 5C8, Canada; Hospice Care Ottawa, 114 Cameron Avenue Ottawa, ON K1S 0X1, Canada. Electronic address:
Bruyère Research Institute, Palliative Care Education and Research, 43 Bruyere St., Ottawa, ON K1N 5C8, Canada; Carleton University, School of Social Work, 1125 Colonel By Dr, Ottawa, ON K1S 5B6, Canada. Electronic address:


Medical trainees are at high risk for developing burnout. Introducing trainees to the risks of burnout and supporting identification and proactive responses to their 'warning' signs of compassion fatigue (CF) is critical in building resiliency. The authors developed and evaluated a burnout and CF program for third year trainees at a Canadian Medical School. Of 165 medical trainees who participated in the burnout and CF program, 59 (36%) provided evaluation and feedback of the program and its impact throughout their year. Participation included self-utilization of a validated CF and burnout tool (ProQOL) across three time-points, workshop feedback, and focus group participation. Results highlighted the importance of 1) Recognizing Individual Signs & Symptoms of Stress, CF and Burnout; 2) Normalizing Stress, CF and Burnout for Students and Physicians; 3) Learning to Manage One's Own Stress. A decrease in compassion satisfaction and increase in burnout between beginning and end of third year were found. Further outcomes highlighted the importance of learning, living and surviving CF and burnout in clerkship. Emergent theory reveals the important responsibility educators have to integrate CF and burnout programs into 'the sweet spot' that third year offers, as trainees shift from theoretical to experiential practice as future clinicians.


Burnout; Compassion fatigue; Emergent theory; Medical education; Professional quality of life; Program evaluation; Self-care

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