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Are Aesthetic Residents Adequately Trained to Prevent Burnout?


A recent study investigates the wellness training plastic surgery residents receive to prevent burnout and improve patient outcomes.

The health care environment has long been plagued with long hours, emotional intensity, and time pressures. Now, the growing level of physician burnout is becoming a more well-known issue and strategies to circumvent it are being included in resident education. 

Health care burnout can affect access to care, patient safety, and care quality, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.1

“Burned-out doctors are more likely to leave practice, which reduces patients’ access to and continuity of care,” the agency wrote in an article on the subject.1 “Burnout can also threaten patient safety and care quality when depersonalization leads to poor interactions with patients and when burned-out physicians suffer from impaired attention, memory, and executive function.”

A study published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal recently reviewed literature on wellness in plastic surgery training.1 Wellness for physicians and residents has been growing in emphasis to improve patient outcomes and prevented burnout, but the amount of studies on the training is lacking, according to study authors.2 

The researchers searched on PubMed to identify journal articles related to wellness in plastic surgery residency. They found 17 studies—6 cohort and 11 cross-sectional—that met the inclusion criteria and, once identified, they were evaluated using the Newcastle-Ottawa Quality Assessment Scale (NOQAS) to examine the quality of the studies based on selection, comparability, and outcome metrics. 

The investigation saw that the studies were highly variable in focus and the overall quality of the data was low, with an average NOQAS score of 4.1. There were 2 studies focused solely on plastic surgery residents, examining work hours and social wellness respectively. These studies were determined to be NOQAS scores of 3 and 4 out of 10.

The authors concluded that little research has been devoted to wellness in surgery training, particularly regarding plastic surgery residents, and the research found was of low quality. Currently, literature suggest a relatively high prevalence of burnout among plastic surgery residents and there may need to be organization level interventions to improve trainee wellness.

Further investigation is needed on this subject.


1. Physician burnout. Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality. Accessed August 5, 2021. https://www.ahrq.gov/prevention/clinician/ahrq-works/burnout/index.html 

2. Grome LJ, Reul RM, Agrawal N, et al. A systematic review of wellness in plastic surgery training. Aesthetic Surgery Journal. 2021;41(8):969-977. doi:10.1093/asj/sjaa185

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