Australian junior doctors are stressed and have high rates of burnout. They have increased rates of suicide. Understanding the experience of junior doctors, the supports they have and stressors that impact on their working environment, may contribute to a greater understanding of what causes burnout in this population.
The study aimed to understand the experience of burnout in General Practice registrars and hospital equivalents. Further objectives were to compare the two populations to identify themes across personal and environmental factors that may be involved in both the exacerbation and prevention of burnout in junior doctors.
Qualitative, semi-structured interviews were completed until data saturation was reached and thematically analysed.
Among the ten interviewees, stress was common and its presence was multifactorial. The junior doctors were aware of some burnout prevention strategies but not always effectively undertaking them. They were more likely to feel stressed when their expectations regarding workplace support were not met and when they believed they were practising beyond the level of their abilities.
We propose a multi-factorial model of junior doctor burnout, derived from thematic analysis of key experiences, that outlines contributing and preventative factors to junior doctor stress and the progression to the experience of burnout. The model describes three components that contribute to junior doctor burnout. We hypothesise that compromise in any one or two factors will be stressful, but that dysfunction in all three areas places doctors at very high risk of being burnt out. This model warrants further investigation, to inform policies to reduce burnout in junior doctors and ensure a research based solution is found to the progressive concerns regarding junior doctor burnout and suicides.