“Burnout” is a smokescreen for rampant human rights violations in medicine. Am I losing anyone here? Let me break it down.
“Burnout” is a complete mental and physical collapse from overwork. Psychiatrists define it as a job-related dysphoria in an individual without major psychopathy. Which means—your job sucks. You’re normal
Smokescreen is an artificial cloud of smoke that hides the perpetrator’s true intentions. This cloud of smoke may take the form of a statement or word used to obscure the truth so victims don’t understand what the heck is really going on. For example, apply the victim-blaming term “burnout” to deflect attention from oppressors who are guilty of human rights violations.
Human rights violation is the violation of a basic right to which all humans are entitled, including the right to life, liberty, equality, a fair trial, freedom from slavery and torture, and freedom of thought and expression. Common human rights violations in medicine include: 1) Sleep deprivation (24+hour shifts, 80+hour work weeks) as described by this physician whistleblower who was forced to work 168-hour shifts. 2) Not being allowed to eat, poop, pee when one needs to 3) Bullying and hazing 4) Being terminated, harassed, or threatened rather than receiving accommodations under the ADA for mental or physical health issues as described by this physician whistleblower who nearly died when her hospital obstructed her medical care.
Physician whistleblower is a physician who reveals health care’s human rights violations to the public. If you’re a physician with a whistleblower story, contact me. Doctors must stop being complicit with abuse or they will become the perpetrators (see below). Physician whistleblowers protect themselves, other health professionals, and patients from continued abuse. Silence and secrets protect the perpetrators.
Victim is a person harmed, injured, or subjected to oppression or mistreatment (may include being sacrificed or killed due to an action/inaction). Those who don’t know they are victims are at high risk of becoming perpetrators.
Perpetrator is an individual (acting alone or within a system such as a medical school, residency or hospital) who harms, injures, or subjects another to oppression or mistreatment (may include sacrificing or killing someone else due to perpetrator’s action/inaction).
Burnout is a smokescreen for rampant human rights violations in medicine. One way to end a cycle of abuse is to stop blaming the victims. Tell the truth: it’s not burnout, it’s abuse.
Pamela Wible, M.D., is a physician who reports on human rights violations in medicine. Have you been abused in medical training or beyond? Contact Dr. Wible.