Burnout Is Bullshit


Please stop using the word burnout. You are not burned out. You’ve been abused. Let’s get the diagnosis right.

We enter medicine as inspired, intelligent, compassionate humanitarians. Soon we’re cynical and exhausted. How did all these totally amazing and high-functioning people get so f@*d up so fast? ATTENTION medical students and doctors: It’s NOT your fault. 

Burnout is physical and mental collapse caused by overwork. 

So why blame the victims? 

The fact is medical students and physicians are collapsing because they are suffering from acute on chronic abuse. At some medical schools, 100% of students report abuse

Do you think this gets better? Physicians are overworked and overwhelmed with bureaucratic bullshit during most of their careers. They are trapped in assembly-line big-box clinics where they are treated like factory workers and berated for not seeing enough patients per day. These are human rights abuses in our nation’s hospitals. This doctor worked 7 days in a row with almost no sleep! 

And the doctor below. Think she’s burned out? Nope. She has been ABUSED!!

Docs, stop playing nice in the sandbox. You are being abused.

You can’t be a victim and healer at the same time.

Only you can stop this shit.

 How do you know if you’re being abused at work? 1) You don’t get lunch or bathroom breaks. 2) You are forced to work multiple-day shifts. 3) You are not allowed to sleep. 4) You are forced to see unsafe numbers of patients. 5) You can never seem to find “work-life balance.” 6) You are threatened verbally, financially—even physically. 7) You are bullied. 8) And if you ask for help, you’re called a slacker or worse. 

If any of this sounds familiar, it’s NOT YOUR FAULT.


So what should you do?  Sign up for a resiliency training? Meditate? Take deep breaths?  Your goal should NOT be to cope with abuse. Your goal should be to STOP it.

Physician burnout is a diagnosis that blames the victim, not the perpetrator. The term physician burnout IS physician abuse. It implies that YOU are to blame, not the system, not perpetrators of the mistreatment.

To prevent burnout, health care institutions may offer resiliency classes to train doctors to prioritize self-care and manage their emotions. WARNING: You can not meditate your way out of abuse. You can not take enough deep breaths in a year to end your abuse.

WHAT YOU MUST DO: If you are being abused, YOU MUST LEAVE YOUR ABUSER. I know it’s scary. But you are not alone. Need help with your escape route? Call me! I escaped. You can too.

End The Abuse! Stop Being Victimized. Download Instructions: Your FREE No B.S. Guide To Launching Your Ideal Clinic & Telling Your Employer To Take A Hike.

Want an ideal clinic? Join the Physician Teleseminar & Retreat.

YOU were born to be a healer, not a victim.

Please break the cycle of health care abuse that leads to so many suicides among docs:

Pamela Wible, M.D., founded the Ideal Medical Care Movement. When not treating patients, she devotes her life to helping her colleagues be doctors not slaves.  Image by Pamela Wible. Videos by GeVe.

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25 comments on “Burnout Is Bullshit
  1. anne says:

    I would add another component to abuse; being forced to stand for 17 hours at a stretch, being forced to assume unnatural positions that will lead to permanent spinal problems (hi there, OBs!), and generally being forced as a condition of employment to function physically in ways that OSHA wouldn’t allow for a secretary or a custodian or a factory worker. How about breathing bone dust or vaporized bodily fluids for a 12 or 20 hour shift? There used to be a booklet from the ACS, I think, giving advice about resilience in the OR, things like wear compression stockings to avoid varicose veins (!) and hydrate to avoid kidney stones. I’m envisioning similar advice to big earning businessmen, lawyers, even politicians. I knew of a cardiothoracic physician, now retired, who was proud of being able to operate over 24 hours straight, and whose residents spoke about him with awe. Reminds me of the uranium miner in the 1950s who amused his colleagues by “washing” his torso and arms with yellowcake, a crudely refined form of uranium. Showing we can take it isn’t necessarily going to fix things. On the plus side, one of my pediatric subspecialty surgeons urges his residents/fellows to operate sitting down because they might want to have functioning legs in their 60s.

  2. Patty Alcala says:

    I agree whole-heartedly! You have got it right. Thank you for all that you do to help physicians and other healthcare providers to begin to realize that what they are feeling is actually abuse and that we all deserve better. You continue to do so much good!

  3. Steven says:

    The doctors in England went on strike at one point due to the horrible working conditions in the hospitals. We truly hold the power direct medicine in this country, it is a shame we are giving it away to business men and politicians.

  4. Steve Levitz says:

    Pamela MD
    I am a practicing board certified podiatrist private practice in Queens New York for 34 yrs
    I am also a Professor at The New York College of Podiatric Medicne
    For 35 yrs. Iwork at the Foot Center of New York which previously was known as the Foot Clinics of New York.
    I train the podiatry students how to examine, diagnose and treat patients with foot problems.
    In the past I Lectured and taught many courses in Biomechanics of the lower extremities and
    gross anatomy of the entire body and had a course in sports medicine and Orthoses of the lower extremities
    I continue to work at The Foot Center of New York at this time mostly clinical seeing patients with junior clinical students.
    I conduct an EBM course in which the students find an article published on a specific topic ala a mini symposium and we rate the artice accordingly while interjecting my coments about the authers and reviue of the Journal and article and refferences cited.
    I enjoy this emmensly, even more than the students because I can comment on the Journal and most of the authers most of which I am familiar with their hsitory or have had personal experience with.
    I find myself being a divorced Male 64 yrs old in a VERY BAD postion.
    My private Pactice single just me and one female worker seeing less and less patients per week while I do not own the property and my overhead is constantly increasing, while my practice in is decreasing.
    I work 7 days a week and am in a financial turmoil
    I DO NOT see a Happy Ending
    I am sorry to Burden you with my problems
    I do see my Primary Care every 3 months for my Hypertension which is controlled with medication and my Psychatrist monthy
    Please give me some advise?
    Steve Levitz DPM

  5. Regina puratich says:

    Keep the torch burning bright!

  6. Elias Anaissie says:

    Superb as always Dr. Wible. “Burnout” is the sanitized and dehumanizing term for physucain abuse just as “collateral damage” is for civilian deaths as a result of the “ordinance” dropped on them.
    As for Physician abuse, it is indeed rampant and likely to get worse with the increasing financial strains on the sickcare system we and our patients are living through and these problems are magnified by the very bureaucrats who abuse physicians and cherish the use of “burnout” while laughing all the way to the bank to cash their hefty salaries and fat bonuses. This includes physician bureaucrats who long forgot the “Hippocratic Oath” they swore to uphold, i.e. “patients first” …or enjoy the mental gymnastic of substituting the “a” in Hippocrath by an “I”.

    Join the idealmedicalcare.org to fight back on behalf of patients and their healers.

  7. Sara says:

    I belong to a Facebook group of 50000 women physicians who are mothers (PMG). We are literally each other’s lifeline for truth and support. We are blamed by the public and are easy targets because the only public forum and voice out there that speaks for our humanity is YOU!!! The stories that are posted on a daily basis are gut wrenching and heart breaking. Personally I’m a single mother of 5 ( no child support) own my own practice because I DO believe in helping people and had to exit from corporate medicine. I make 65 thousand a year and can’t afford healthcare….this system is broken! Thank you from every cell of my being for the work you are doing.

  8. Anon says:

    what if you can’t leave? what if you’re a resident?

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Keep a notebook detailing the abuses. Turn hospital into OSHA for violations, workplace abuse, bullying, work hour restriction violations. Whatever you do, doing nothing is not an option. Write anonymous blogs at a minimum. Submit to me, KevinMD. Silence will not save us.

  9. Ann says:

    I think this is such an important movement! Dr Wible seems like a wonderful leader for those of us who think we should just ‘grin and bare it.’ For awhile, I thought something was wrong with me when I chose to leave my ER residency training behind and focus on caring for my family AND myself. Medicine is abusive, especially in the ER. I was able to leave (thanks to a stronger-than-me physician husband) and put my energies and healing nature to work for my family, including an ailing mother and a disabled child. I haven’t worked for 2 years and I can’t imagine going back to an all around abusive an oppressive environment. I’m not cut out for it and I no longer have debt holding me back. (thanks to hubby again). My options are wide open (I think) but I have no idea where or what I could find that would make me happy in medicine. I’ll keep following Dr Wible…thank you!

  10. Gjanbuselvan says:


  11. Steve Cripe RN says:

    It saddens me that you are not including nurses, medics, firefighters and police, along with your efforts toward reducing abuse or burnout, or whatever semantics we want to use. Do you even know how many of the above mentioned group we lose each day, not only to their profession, but to suicide as well? There must be a correlation between all this, but we seem to only be concentrating on physicians. Your efforts are admirable, but not inclusive. The issue, whatever we’d like to call it and confuse people, includes ALL caregivers. It may have many causes and determinate factors, but the end result is all the same. What is going on with and why does this affect caregivers in our society? That is where your effort and concentration should be.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Absolutely all inclusive. I invite all health care workers to our teleseminars and retreats. Nobody is excluded. The root of the problem often stems from how physicians are trained. If doctors were well the trickle down impact on everyone would be immense. Hope you will come to one of our events Steve! Love to have you. Keep trying to get my cousin Lisa (RN) out to one 🙂

  12. Cory Annis, MD says:

    One year ago this weekend, I stepped out of the independent but insurance-driven practice that I co-owned and into my independent but patient-relationship-driven ideal practice. I still watch my colleagues who chose not to follow me and weep. I have long felt we were abused, but now I have a particularly painful vantage point. Daily, I am watching colleagues I love being abused by a system that cares neither about them nor their patients. I feel like I am sitting outside in the get-away car screaming “Please…let me drive you to the shelter!” If other primary care doctors felt what I feel going to work now, working for patients who not only chose me but value that choice, there would be no primary care shortage.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Exactly how I have felt trying to help my colleagues for 12 years. They are terrified to leave their abusers. So they just sit their and complain in their crappy jobs till they retire. Tragic.

  13. Ann Y. Mouse says:

    What if you trained in a field (anesthesiology) that doesn’t have a traditional office but more and more works for a management firm vs. hospital? How do you leave your abuser then?

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Even anesthesiologists are branching out in innovative settings. I’d love to talk to you. Call me anytime 541-345-2437. Leave a msg and I’ll call you back! Also emailing you now . . .

  14. James says:

    I think the system is abusive to prevent doctors from applying theoreticam advancements, or “alternative” theory that has already been proven but supressed. To overcome all that one would have to go all the way back before medical licensing boards. I find it interesting that so much propaganda arose in the 90s for free healthcare; well now we are closer to that and things are more worsex more tightly controlled, then ever. I would say the best thing for the conscious physician woupd be to become a nutritional consultant, to exit the field entirely, and the tight means on control inherent in it. Most medications are ineffective and dangerous. Most procedures are unecessary and temporary. If i were a doctor (im in the health care field), i would become manager of a group of qualified, though nonoicensed or titled, consultants or coaches. Do give you an idea of what i mean, read some articles on raypeat.com. read “rockefeller medicine men). This promise of miracle cures will never happen, because the miracle cures already exist.

  15. Mario says:

    When I first came across Dr Wible I thought, “great someone is finally on top of this…”. Maybe now everyone, and by everyone I meant other physicians. Specially those “progressive”, and so called intelligent elite, in position of power and influence that throw other lesser important “primary care medicine” physicians under the bus. Since “anyone can do 90% of our job..”. They bought into the new holy grail, “access to care.. “. Friendlies, politicized health care. Some would call them cultural Marxists. Where the ends justifies the means and even though it’s watered down medicine and poor patient care, it’s access. Practitioners are just as good. Even better, “revenue generators”, for some. Who does EHR benefit? Follow the money. It isn’t the patient. Then I heard that even Dr Wible was just a collector of stories and an entrepreneur but no real treatment, research or support. It’s not just physicians and patients, the corner stone of this health care- industrial complex, it’s all “care givers” and retreat members that matter. For a price of course. Maybe my burn out and PTSD is showing it’s cynical head. But I’m tired of, like you said, hiding.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Speak your truth Mario. But try not to let pessimism win. I can guarantee that I’m not “just” a collector of stories. I’ve helped hundreds of doctors launch independent practices and I still run my own clinic (and have NEVER turned anyone away for lack of money). Ive spent nearly every waking hour over the past 5+ years in physician suicide prevention efforts (running a free hotline from my house). Don’t be so cynical. Life is more fun when you take your power back and live the beautiful life you were born to live. If you need help for your PTSD I’d suggest you listen to this podcast: Physician PTSD: Are you a victim?

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