Burnout reduction in acute care surgeons: Impact of faculty schedule change at a level 1 trauma and tertiary care center

Caitlin Elizabeth Jones, Elizabeth Dora Fox, Steven B. Holsten, Cassandra Q. White, Rashid K. Sayyid, Terence O'Keeffe, Andrew G. Lawson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND Acute care surgeons are prone to burnout because of heavy workload, concurrent clinical responsibilities, and busy in-house call. Modifiable burnout factors have been identified, but few studies have looked for longitudinal effects after change is implemented. We hypothesized that optimizing faculty workflow could decrease burnout without compromising productivity. METHODS We streamlined the faculty schedule at our institution to eliminate 24-hour call by creating weekly blocks of 12-hour day and night call, free from other clinical obligations. Protected academic time was added. The Maslach Burnout Inventory and Areas of Worklife Survey for health care providers were given to faculty, as well as close friends or family, at baseline, 6 months, and 12 months. Maslach Burnout Inventory and Areas of Worklife Survey proprietary formulas were used to assess change in factors contributing to burnout. Our primary outcome measure was the presence of factors contributing to burnout. Chart delinquency, relative value units, and academic projects were secondary outcome measures assessing clinical productivity change. RESULTS Survey completion rates were 92% for faculty and 80% for family. All burnout risk factors improved at 6 and 12 months. In surgeon and family groups, the following improvements were noted in the mean scores of risk factors at 1 year: workload (74%, 68%), control (38%, 16%), reward (14%, 24%), fairness (69%, 22%), emotional exhaustion (27.5%, 24%), depersonalization (37.5%, 14%), personal accomplishment (12.5%, 2%), community (3%, 5%), values (10%, 15%), and over-all burnout (12.5%, 23.3%). There was a reduction in charts reaching delinquent status. Relative value unit production did not decrease. CONCLUSION This study demonstrates that implementing a weekly, 12-hour call schedule can improve factors leading to burnout. Improvements were noted in surgeon and family groups alike, signifying both subjective improvements and observed change in the surgeons' behavior, without compromising clinical productivity. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE Therapeutic/Care Management; Level III.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)439-445
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2022


  • Burnout
  • call
  • schedule
  • surgeon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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