Written by Meeri Kim.
A mere three years after completing her residency training in 2011, surgeon Carla Haack found herself in the throes of job burnout. She had been devoting her life to the hospital, working 14-hour days including weekends for months at a time. Often the opportunity to eat a meal wouldn’t arise until the end of the long work day.
“You could have taken the textbook definition of burnout and stuck it on me. I was miserable, and the work became unsustainable for me,” said Haack, a general and acute care surgeon at Emory University Hospital. “I was exhausted, depleted and probably had some diagnostic features of depression.”
As a result of giving everything to the care of her patients, she ended up with nothing left for herself. Haack had even thought about leaving the practice. The combination of long hours, the increasing clerical demands of medicine and constant worries about patients’ health led to symptoms of burnout.
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