Assessing mid-career female physician burnout in the military health system: finding joy in practice after the COVID-19 pandemic

Jessica Korona-Bailey*, Miranda Lynn Janvrin, Lisa Shaw, Tracey Perez Koehlmoos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Rates of physician burnout increased during the COVID-19 pandemic and are expected to continue to rise. Mid-career physicians, female physicians, and military physicians have all been identified as potentially vulnerable populations to experience burnout. We examine factors associated with physician burnout among this intersectional group through a qualitative key informant interview study. Methods: We developed a semi-structured interview guide using the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Improving Joy in Work Framework and recruited military, mid-career female physicians who worked in the Military Health System(MHS) during the COVID-19 pandemic, (March 2020 -December 2021). Notes were collated and deductive thematic analysis was conducted. Results: We interviewed a total of 22 mid-career female physician participants. Participants were between 30 and 44 years of age and 7 were mothers during the pandemic. Most were White and served in the Army. All participants discussed the importance of building rapport and having a good relationship with coworkers. All participants also described their discontentment with the new MHS GENESIS electronic health record system. An emerging theme was military pride as most participants were proud to serve in and support the military population. Additionally, participants discussed the negative impact from not feeling supported and not feeling heard by leadership. Conclusions: Much like providers in other health systems during the pandemic, MHS physicians experienced burnout. This study allowed us to gather key insights to improve policies for active duty service mid-career female military physicians. Provider inclusion, autonomy, and work culture play critical roles in future systems improvement and workforce retention.

Original languageEnglish
Article number862
JournalBMC Public Health
Volume24
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2024
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Female physicians
  • Mental health
  • Military medicine
  • Morale
  • Physician burnout

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