Institutional Factors Associated With Burnout Among Assistant Professors

Naomi N. Duke, Amy Gross, Antoinette Moran, Jill Hodsdon, Nadir Demirel, Erin Osterholm, Muna Sunni, Michael B. Pitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Phenomenon: Factors related to individual circumstance and organizational climate are contributing to a worsening burnout problem among providers in healthcare settings. In the academic health center, junior faculty may be at particular risk for burnout given intersecting responsibilities of clinical expertise, research rigor, teaching commitments, and service expectations. To date, much of the focus on preventing and mitigating burnout has been located at the individual level, addressing lifestyle modification and self-regulation skills. We sought to examine relationships between institutional context and burnout qualities as a means to identify opportunities for organizational leadership to address faculty burnout. Approach: Data are from a baseline survey of assistant professors (faculty with diverse ratios for clinical, research, and teaching responsibilities) located within a pediatrics department in an academic medical center. Pearson correlation coefficients and logistic regression models were used to examine relationships between institutional factors (mentorship, collaboration opportunities, feelings of empowerment, value, and support of well-being) and experiences of burnout as measured by the original 22-item Maslach Burnout Inventory (subscales: Emotional Exhaustion, Depersonalization, and Low Personal Accomplishment). Findings: Three perceived institutional characteristics were significantly associated with all three dimensions of burnout, particularly emotional exhaustion, which decreased with increasing perception of (a) empowerment to communicate professional needs, (b) feeling valued for contributions to the department, and (c) department commitment to support faculty well-being. In multivariate logistic regression models, adjusted for gender identity and years since training, increased positive perceptions of these three institutional characteristics were associated with significantly lower odds of burnout. For example, for each unit increase along a 5-point rating scale in feeling empowered to communicate needs and feeling valued for contributions to the department, the odds of meeting cutoff scores for burnout were reduced by 78% (p =.002) to 84% (p =.002), respectively. Insights: Although much of the focus on addressing burnout in healthcare settings has been on promoting coping skills and building resilience at the individual level, our findings add to a growing literature documenting a significant role for institutional leadership in identifying and facilitating strategies to promote faculty well-being. Findings also support leadership’s role for improving institutional climate via creating opportunities to increase faculty perceptions of empowerment and value in the department.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-70
Number of pages10
JournalTeaching and Learning in Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 19 2019


  • Maslach Burnout Inventory
  • burnout
  • faculty development
  • healthcare professional
  • institutional climate

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


Dive into the research topics of 'Institutional Factors Associated With Burnout Among Assistant Professors'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this