Shorter ICU rotations limit physician burnout, study finds

Shortening the traditional intensive care unit rotation from 14 consecutive days to seven could help reduce physician burnout, according to a study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

For the study, researchers from Philadelphia-based Penn Medicine launched a pilot program across four critical care units in May 2018. Two units worked a seven-day rotation, one unit worked a 14-day rotation and a fourth unit had the option to pick between the two. Researchers also issued more than 180 surveys to 29 physicians during the pilot to gauge levels of burnout and job fulfillment.

They found physicians working shorter rotations had up to 41 percent lower burnout rates. Physicians also reported feeling more engaged and energetic in their work.

"Our study shows that organizations can implement new strategies, such as shorter staffing rotations, that have a real impact on burnout rates and job fulfillment," lead author Mark Mikkelsen, MD, chief of medical critical care and an associate professor of medicine at Penn Medicine, said in a press release. "Based on our findings, we changed our scheduling approach to limit the number of consecutive days per rotation and ensure adequate nonclinical time between rotations."

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