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How to tell if your doctor is burned out

Psychiatrist Mamta Gautam has been called the "doctor's doctor." She coaches physicians on how to stay one step ahead of burnout.
Dr. Mamta Gautam (Michelle Valberg)

Originally published on Nov. 11, 2017. 

Psychiatrist Mamta Gautam is known as the "doctor's doctor" because she works almost exclusively with physicians who are facing emotional turmoil.

It's a busy practice: surveys show that half of Canadian physicians report some level of mental distress due to their jobs.

According to Dr. Gautam, physicians often wait too long to seek treatment. 

She advises people in stressful jobs to make themselves aware of the stages of burnout so they can seek treatment earlier.

Susceptible to burnout 

Gautam says there are three stage of burnout. 

Gautum says physicians are particularly susceptible to burnout because of the high stakes of their profession.

Many make life or death decisions daily. Further, physicians tend to have personality traits that can make them prone to burnout; they are highly conscientious, responsible, caring and compassionate.

There are also the challenges of providing care in an environment of continued cutbacks, with growing demands from more complex patients, adds Gautum.

To fix the issue, Dr. Gautam believes that there needs to be a fundamental change in the culture of medicine. She says health-care institutions need to better support their doctors and help them prevent stress before it leads to burnout.


This episode featured a reference to a "viral video" that was filmed at a Gainesville, Fla., clinic last month. A patient's daughter filmed an altercation with a doctor, who lost his temper with the patient. 

We aired a portion of audio from the video to open up the discussion about what contribute to "doctor burnout." The clinic has released a statement explaining what happened from its point of view. You can read the statement here. 



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