A Burnout Fix: Occupational Health

Maureen Miller | The Atlantic | July 2, 2013

In the midst of the doctor shortage and burnout epidemic, occupational medicine is the best-kept secret in U.S. health care.

This past week, discussions of the U.S. doctor shortage dominated the health op-ed sections of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post, among others. In the current Washington Monthly, as James Hamblin discussed here yesterday, Phillip Longman addressed the open secret that the most academically prestigious medical residency programs routinely train the fewest number of primary care physicians. Concerns about salaries, student debt, and physician burnout discourage these students from staying in medicine -- and, more importantly, from selecting primary care and preventive medicine specialties as a career. 

Yet few if any writers addressing the doctor shortage describe a structural component of medical training that dissuades students and residents from long-term employment as physicians: American medical trainees receive next to no specialized training in worker health and safety.