Remedy for Burnout [Book Review]

In a short book – or a long essay, depending on how you look at it – Starla Fitch MD addresses the matter of physician burnout. She does not really waste time telling us things we already know: that physician burnout rates are high and prevention rates are dismal.

refill your cup

Instead, she falls with the door into the house by providing a remedy for burnout. She divides them into two categories: personal prescriptions, such as resilience and self-worth; and interpersonal prescriptions, impressing the importance of support and connection.

In case the reader feels that a particular chapter is hard to apply, there is a concise “prescription” at the end of each chapter, offering tangible steps to take in order to “fill” a certain “prescription”.

The book is certainly not all-encompassing, but it is a great starting point, given that most physicians would hardly have the time to read a much more detailed book on the matter. Of course, to take these “prescriptions” seriously, one must be aware of one’s own vulnerability, so it is of no use to physicians who refuse to admit to compassion fatigue.

Also, this book may be more a mode of primary or, in special cases, secondary prevention of burnout. In a case of fully-fledged burnout, a physician would need more help than the pointers provided in this text. That is probably my biggest critique of this text.

I also think that this book is more applicable to cases where people have gradually fallen out of love with medicine, more like disillusionment, rather than an acute burnout situation. For example, I think that doctors in developing countries who deal with some horrific situations and poor resources, may need a bit of a stronger “prescription”. I’m hoping I can figure out what that is soon.

Nevertheless, the steps highlighted by Fitch are well worth remembering, and I would love for this short text to be made available to all young doctors upon graduation, in an effort to improve the health of all our patients – including ourselves.

Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided to me via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. While this book isn’t free, Fitch’s website does offer other free resources on the topic.

Tell me: what do you do to prevent burnout?


  1. harveylisam says:

    I can always use tips to avoid burnout! I’m sure I’ll need them when residency starts in a few months 😉

    1. barefootmegz says:

      Then I certainly recommend the book (maybe you can find it cheaper somewhere, it’s a little expensive for such a short book). I actually read that Family Physicians have very high rates of burnout so I’m holding thumbs for you to pull out all the stops to stay healthy and happy 🙂

  2. Peace says:

    Sometimes I wish we were neighbor so I can borrow your books!
    Have a nice weekend

    1. barefootmegz says:

      Ah, I would love to lend them to you! Unfortunately they are all single-use advanced reader copies on Kindle. If we were neighbours we would totally share books 😀

  3. Peace says:

    Oh and to answer your question: ( not a doctor yet, just a student intern)
    – A lazy day or days once in a while
    – At least 15 minutes walk in nature daily. I started this while preparing for exams. It was my saving heaven.I worry a lot and being surrounded by trees and seeing the open sky helped me seeing the bigger picture, that life is not an exam and that life is for living
    – being religious: ok it is just reading my book and trying to understand/ meditate and being nice to my fellow humans.
    – if something bad happened, I make sure I talk to my wonderful friends. This usually stop me from overthinking about it.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s