Is physician burnout really “moral injury”?

Is physician burnout really a manifestation of “moral injury”? In combat veterans moral injury is better understood. The internalized consequences of actions we have always been taught are wrong–inducing suffering and even death–are difficult to reconcile. In veterans this manifests as post-traumatic stress, guilt, and difficulty adjusting back in the “moral” world. Among physicians similar internal conflicts are portrayed as burnout. But are they really? Maybe they’re a symptom of a bigger problem–the failures of our healthcare system to let us heal people, behave with empathy, and feel rewarded.

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