Medical providers are often seen as infallible, setting a standard for professionalism and quality care. However, throughout history, it has been shown that from medical students to residents, to attending physicians there can be an overarching trend of burnout. Poor work-life balance impacts sleep and physical well-being, and high-intensity situations can leave those in the medical field feeling empty. Medical residents are a population that has experienced these occurrences for years. Studies have suggested that this can stem from residents having limited control in their situations while being trusted with immense responsibility. Historic context to why residency programs are run the way they are as well as an understanding of the difference between burnout and compassion fatigue is key to fully understanding the circumstances leading medical residents to potential burnout and severe stress reaction.

While some may view stress as inevitable and even at times favorable for medical residents it has been shown to have potential lasting consequences for the residents and the patients as well. This paper looks to review studies and articles in medical literature to address the following questions: (1) what is the history of medical residency programs? (2) What are the key defining features in burnout versus compassion fatigue? (3) What is the prevalence of burnout in medical residents? (4) What are the potential implications on both provider and patient of medical resident burnout? And (5) looking forward what can be done to prevent resident burnout?

Date of Award

Winter 12-2-2020

Document Type

Capstone Paper

First Advisor

Mitch Moore



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.