Burnout among Medical Education Specialists in Korean Medical Colleges

의학교육 전문부서 교원의 탈진현상

  • Park, Kwihwa (Department of Medical Education, Gachon University of Medicine and Science) ;
  • Lee, Young-Mee (Department of Medical Humanities and Education, Korea University College of Medicine)
  • 박귀화 (가천대학교 의학전문대학원 의학교육실) ;
  • 이영미 (고려대학교 의과대학 의인문학교실)
  • Received : 2014.05.16
  • Accepted : 2014.06.13
  • Published : 2014.06.30


Medical education departments or offices are established in response to public expectations relating to health care, societal trends towards increased accountability, educational developments, increased interest in what to teach and how to educate doctors. However, heavy workloads and mixed feelings towards medical education departments or offices by the other members of a medical school can threaten job satisfaction and increase burnout. The authors investigated the prevalence of burnout among medical education specialists and related issues. Individual in-depth interviews with four medical education specialists were conducted to develop a questionnaire. After content analysis of the interview, the authors generated a survey form with 28 items including 6 categories: motivation to choose medical education as a career, job satisfaction, intention to leave their current position in medical education, the frequency and causes of burnout, and demographics. In September 2013, an email survey was administered to 43 faculty including non-tenure staff who were working in the department/office of medical education in 41 medical colleges in Korea. Of 43 medical education specialists, 25 (60%) returned surveys. Forty three-point-three percent of them felt encouraged when their endeavors generated a visible educational improvement in the medical school. A majority (87%) reported feeling burned out. Fifty percent of them experienced the feeling once or twice a year. The extent of burnout tended to be greater in women, those in their forties, those with non-medical doctor degrees, and in non-tenured staff. To reduce and prevent burnout among medical education specialists, the participants suggested that leadership of medical schools and a systematic approach to medical education should be established. A majority of the medical education specialists reported experiencing burnout, although they were satisfied with their jobs. To reduce their burnout and allow them to focus on their own work in medical education, the following factors are needed: perceptual changes of other members of the college about medical education; more systematic institutional strategies; networking among medical education specialists; and personal efforts for professional development.



  1. Cherniss, C. (1980). Professional burnout in the human service organizations. New York: Praeger.
  2. Cole, T. R., Goodrich, T. J., & Gritz, E. R. (2009). Faculty health in academic medicine: physicians, scientists, and the pressures of success. Totowa (NJ): Humana Press.
  3. Cruz, O. A., Pole, C. J., & Thomas, S. M. (2007). Burnout in chairs of academic departments of ophthalmology. Ophthalmology, 114(12), 2350-2355.
  4. Davis, M. H., Karunathilake, I., & Harden, R. M. (2005). AMEE education guide no. 28: the development and role of departments of medical education. Med Teach, 27(8), 665-675.
  5. Dyrbye, L. N., Power, D. V., Massie, F. S., Eacker, A., Harper, W., Thomas, M. R., ⋯ Shanafelt, T. D. (2010). Factors associated with resilience to and recovery from burnout: a prospective, multi-institutional study of US medical students. Med Educ, 44(10), 1016-1026.
  6. Gabbe, S. G., Melville, J., Mandel, L., & Walker, E. (2002). Burnout in chairs of obstetrics and gynecology: diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. Am J Obstet Gynecol, 186(4), 601-612.
  7. Gabbe, S. G., Webb, L. E., Moore, D. E. Jr., Mandel, L. S., Melville, J. L., & Spickard, W. A. Jr. (2008). Can mentors prevent and reduce burnout in new chairs of departments of obstetrics and gynecology:results from a prospective, randomized pilot study. Am J Obstet Gynecol,198(6), 653.e1-e7.
  8. Gross, C. P., Mead, L. A., Ford, D. E., & Klag, M. J. (2000). Physician, heal thyself?: regular source of care and use of preventive health services among physicians. Arch Intern Med, 160(21), 3209-3214.
  9. Gundersen, L. (2001). Physician burnout. Ann Intern Med, 135(2), 145-148.
  10. Hewlett, S. A., & Luce, C. B. (2006). Extreme jobs: the dangerous allure of the 70-hour workweek. Harv Bus Rev, 84(12), 49-59, 162.
  11. Kang, P. S., Kim, D. S., Lee, K. Y., Hwang T. Y., & Bang, J. B. (2006). The operating status of medical education management units in Korea. Korean J Med Educ, 18(1), 13-22.
  12. Khalid, T. (2013). Faculty perceptions about roles and functions of a department of medical education. J Coll Physicians Surg Pak, 23(1), 56-61.
  13. Lackritz, J. R. (2004). Exploring burnout among university faculty: incidence, performance, and demographic issues. Teach Teach Educ, 20(7), 713-729.
  14. Lowenstein, S. R., Fernandez, G., & Crane, L. A. (2007). Medical school faculty discontent: prevalence and predictors of intent to leave academic careers. BMC Med Educ, 7, 37.
  15. Medical Education Research, Consulting and Implementation. (2013). MERCI newsletter. MERCI, 4, 1-19.
  16. Saleh, K. J., Quick, J. C., Conaway, M., Sime, W. E., Martin, W., Hurwitz, S., & Einhorn, T. A. (2007). The prevalence and severity of burnout among academic orthopaedic departmental leaders. J Bone Joint SurgAm, 89(4), 896-903.
  17. Shanafelt, T. D., Bradley, K. A., Wipf, J. E., & Back, A. L. (2002). Burnout and self-reported patient care in an internal medicine residency program. Ann Intern Med, 136(5), 358-367.
  18. Shanafelt, T. D., West, C. P., Sloan, J. A., Novotny, P. J., Poland, G. A., Menaker, R., ... Dyrbye, L. N. (2009). Career fit and burnout among academic faculty. Arch Intern Med, 169(10), 990-995.
  19. Shirom, A., Nirel, N., & Vinokur, A. D. (2006). Overload, autonomy, and burnout as predictors of physicians’ quality of care. J Occup Health Psychol, 11(4), 328-342.
  20. Tekian, A. (1992). Educational development centres in the health sector. Geneva:World Health Organisation.
  21. Thomas, N. K. (2004). Resident burnout. JAMA, 292(23), 2880-2889.
  22. Thorndyke, L. E., Gusic, M. E., George, J. H., Quillen, D. A., & Milner, R. J. (2006). Empowering junior faculty: Penn State’s faculty development and mentoring program. Acad Med, 81(7), 668-673.
  23. Towle, A. (1998). The aims of the curriculum: education for health needs in 2000 and beyond. In B. Jolly & L. Rees (Eds.). Medical education in the millennium (pp. 3-19). Oxford: Oxford Medical Publications.