A Harvard report says physician burnout is “a public health crisis that urgently demands action.”

In Australia, doctors are facing the same crisis. Even before the pandemic, burnout was a major issue for young doctors. “Our young doctors are constantly being extended and they are breaking,” said the Australian Medical Association (AMA). 

A survey in Queensland found almost 60 percent of junior doctors were concerned about making a clinical error due to fatigue caused by hours worked, up from 51 per cent in 2021 and 48 per cent in 2020.  

Australian Medical Association President Professor Steve Robson said there were some alarming results from 2023’s Medical Training Survey. 

We must care for our doctors

“We’re looking down the barrel of worsening healthcare workforce shortages. We need to listen to what our trainees are saying if we want to look after their wellbeing and ensure they don’t leave the profession,” said AMA President Professor Steve Robson. 

AMA Council of Doctors in Training Chair Dr Hannah Szewczyk said the results of the survey and the implications for the future of Australia’s healthcare were “concerning”. 

“It’s alarming to see that 19 percent of doctors in training are considering a career outside of medicine. This is similar to last year’s results and is extremely concerning,” Dr Szewczyk said.

The American Academy of Family Physicians linked burnout to higher rates of medical errors, substance abuse and addiction, and suicide among physicians. 

A new survey shows that up to 47 percent of U.S. healthcare workers plan to leave their positions by 2025. “The situation is far worse than ever and demands well-documented, innovative approaches to address this crisis”, said Stuart Rothenberg, MD, Medical Director of the Centre for Health and Wellness in the US.

Research shows Transcendental Meditation® significantly reduces burnout, stress and anxiety in healthcare workers.

Transcendental Meditation® [TM®] is an evidence-based, non-pharmacological approach. The Centre for Health and Wellness has a long track record of providing TM instruction to first responders, including police, firefighters, and military personnel. Today, our doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers are true first responders—and are in desperate need of evidenced-based solutions.

“TM produces a unique neurophysiological state that combines deep metabolic rest with heightened mental alertness. This state of deep relaxation, which researchers have termed ‘restful alertness,’ is a potent antidote to stress,” Dr. Rothenberg said.

Peer-reviewed research on TM

Over 450 peer-reviewed published studies on Transcendental Meditation® have documented improvements in a wide variety of stress-related disorders. Including burnout, as well as significant improvements in cognitive function and overall health and well-being. The US National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defence have awarded nearly $30 million in grant support for research on Transcendental Meditation®.

The research on TM and healthcare workers burnout is starting to roll in. In a randomized controlled study at the Duke Medical Centre the TM group showed significant reductions in emotional exhaustion, sleep difficulties, and anxiety over those receiving usual care. This was published last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association (see below).

Duke Random Control Trial (RCT):
Improvement in Maslach Burnout Inventory Scores Changes in Emotional Exhaustion Scores

Research shows Transcendental Meditation® provide relief from burnout, anxiety and sleep disorders.

Reduced Burnout, Anxiety Symptoms, and Sleep Problems

Joshi SP, et al. Efficacy of Transcendental Meditation® to Reduce Stress Among Health Care Workers: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Network Open; 2022, 5(9):e2231917. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.31917 (Journal of the American Medical Association)

During the COVID-19 pandemic, 80 healthcare workers from Duke University Medical Centre were randomly assigned to learn TM or to a control group. Compared to controls, the TM group had significant reductions over three months in emotional exhaustion as measured by the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI), sleep difficulties measured by the Insomnia Severity Index (ISI), and anxiety measured by the Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7) index. Study participants in the TM group were highly compliant with their home TM practice. The researchers concluded that “TM may significantly alleviate burnout, anxiety, and insomnia among HCWs [healthcare workers]…The practice of TM, which is both feasible and safe, could be considered as one strategy to prevent or mitigate chronic stress and burnout.

Field Site: Duke Medical Center and Mind Path, Durham, NC