Family Medicine Physicians Speak Out on Burnout and Resilience

Facing Burnout the First Year of Residency

Kristina Dakis, MD


September 06, 2017

Editorial Collaboration

Medscape &

One month into my residency, my father was diagnosed with colon cancer. All of a sudden, life was a lot different than I imagined it would be. At the end of my intern year, I was having a really hard time relating with patients. I was getting easily frustrated with them. I felt emotionally exhausted all the time and, to be honest, I was forgetting a lot of the reasons why I had fallen in love with family medicine to begin with. Actually, I was resenting medicine for keeping me away from my family. But three things helped me get through this.

I was forgetting a lot of the reasons why I had fallen in love with family medicine to begin with.

The first was taking a step back and focusing on family. When my father was getting sick, I turned to my support network: my family, friends, and colleagues. I asked my residency program for some time away and, as a result, my husband and I were able to have a last-minute wedding so that my father could be there. I also surrounded myself with people who reminded me who I was outside of medicine, and that ended up being really important.

Second, I took time to reflect on why being a family medicine physician makes me so happy. My favorite memory is from my intern year, when I delivered my very first obstetrics continuity patient. I followed her through her whole pregnancy. I remember driving through the streets of Chicago at 11:00 at night, worrying that I was going to miss that delivery. I made it there and walked into the room, and the whole family cheered when they saw me. I still cannot believe that I was the person that got to hand my patient her baby for the very first time. Now her son is my patient. The work we do is so amazing and we have to remember that.

Finally, I decided to lead a national burnout prevention project through Family Medicine for America's Health, because feeling like I was making a difference in my own small way was really therapeutic for me.


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