A new study reveals high levels of job dissatisfaction among pediatric radiologists, and some suggest AI can help streamline workflow to alleviate workload burdens

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Healthcare itself is not immune to burnout, and a recent study in Journal of the American College of Radiology demonstrates it is taking a toll on pediatric radiologists in particular. The study surveyed Society of Pediatric Radiology (SPR) members and found nearly two-thirds expressed at least one symptom of burnout. While burnout is a complicated phenomenon and no two people experience it the same way, a commentary on the study suggests artificial intelligence (AI) could help alleviate some of the difficulties that can lead to burnout. Defining Burnout

Rama S. Ayyala, M.D. , is a pediatric radiologist with the Department of Diagnostic Imaging at Rhode Island Hospital-Hasbro Children’s Hospital and Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University . She wanted to study burnout because she had been interacting with a lot of people in her field who were experiencing it. “A lot of them were leaving medicine and some were even having mental health issues,” she said.

This sentiment was also born out in the most recent edition of the National Physician Burnout, Depression and Suicide Report, published by Medscape. The report ranks medical subspecialties by the percentage of clinicians reporting feelings of burnout. Radiology ranked seventh in the 2018 Medscape survey — alarming enough by itself, but even more so because it jumped from 18th place in the previous edition.1

Ayyala’s research team surveyed SPR members on their feelings of burnout according to the three components of the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI), originally published in 1981:

• Emotional exhaustion (feeling overextended and depleted);
• Depersonalization (a sense of cynicism, and/or a detached or callous attitude toward your job); and
• Lack of personal accomplishment (perceived incompetence with capabilities in the job).

A total of 460 clinicians returned responses out of the 1,453 who were sent the survey, a 32 percent response rate. The prevalence rate for emotional exhaustion among the respondent group was 66 percent and depersonalization was 61 percent.

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“People feel like they’ve lost their sense of control,” said Ayyala.

The survey included additional questions to gather more information about the roles and job characteristics of pediatric radiologists, including:

• Full- or part-time employment status;
• How long they have been practicing;
• Practice type;
• Total number of pediatric radiologists in the practice; and
• On-call status and frequency of being on-call.

Out of all the job characteristics surveyed, on-call status seemed to have the single greatest association with increased feelings of burnout. “Many children’s hospitals currently struggle with how to provide 24-hour radiology coverage,” Ayyala stated. […]

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