Emergency Medicine Faculty Are Poor at Predicting Burnout in Individual Trainees: An Exploratory Study

Dave W. Lu*, Patrick M. Lank, Jeremy B. Branzetti

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Objective: Burnout is common among emergency medicine (EM) physicians, and it is prevalent even among EM trainees. Recently proposed Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education requirements encourage faculty to alert residency leadership when trainees display signs of burnout. It remains uncertain how trainees experiencing burnout can be reliably identified. We examined if EM faculty advisers at one institution can accurately predict burnout in their EM resident advisees. Methods: In this cross-sectional, exploratory study at a single institution, we measured EM trainee burnout using the Maslach Burnout Inventory through a confidential, electronic survey. We subsequently asked EM faculty to predict if their designated advisees were experiencing burnout through a separate confidential, electronic survey. Burnout results were dichotomized from each survey and compared using a 2 × 2 contingency table and Fisher's exact test. Results: Thirty-six of 54 (66.7%) eligible EM trainees completed the burnout assessment. Eleven of 19 (57.9%) eligible faculty advisers completed trainee burnout predictions, resulting in 30 of 54 (55.6%) trainees who completed the burnout assessment and had a faculty burnout prediction. Trainees reported an overall burnout rate of 70.0% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 53.6% to 86.4%). Cumulative faculty predictions of trainee burnout resulted in an overall burnout rate of 16.7% (95% CI = –5.3% to 38.7%). The sensitivity and specificity of faculty predictions of trainee burnout were 19.1% (95% CI = 5.5% to 41.9%) and 88.9% (95% CI = 51.8% to 99.7%), respectively. Faculty prediction of trainee burnout had a positive predictive value of 80.0% (95% CI = 28.4% to 99.5%) and a negative predictive value of 32.0% (95% CI = 15.0% to 53.5). The difference between trainees’ reported rate of burnout and faculty predictions of trainee burnout was significant (p < 0.001). Conclusion: Emergency medicine faculty prediction of trainee burnout was poor. Education on recognizing burnout and other methods of identifying trainee burnout may be necessary.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-78
Number of pages4
JournalAEM Education and Training
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Education
  • Emergency

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