A light in the flame: Perceived burnout among underrepresented minority physician assistant educators in the United States



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There is a keen interest surrounding burnout in academic medicine with an existing need for more studies regarding the subject (Dandar et al., 2019). The priority population for this study were underrepresented minority (URM) physician assistant (PA) educators in the United States. The purpose was to determine external and internal contributors that lead to perceived burnout, as well as to investigate if primary and secondary appraisal inform burnout coping strategies. The study also sought to determine if there was an existing relationship between demographic factors (gender, age, self-identified race, faculty role, and “years in faculty position”) and emotional exhaustion (EE). This study employed a mixed-methods research design using a convenience sample representative of URM PA educators from across the United States (n = 101). For the quantitative portion of the study, the participants completed a demographics survey and the Maslach Burnout Inventory – Educators Survey from which their average EE score was calculated. For the qualitative portion of the study, 11 participants were interviewed to identify burnout perception, burnout contributors, and burnout coping strategies. An independent samples t test, Pearson’s r correlation, multiple linear regression, and one-way analysis of variances were used to determine the relationship between demographic variables and EE. Qualitative data were analyzed by categorizing the findings into codes and organizing the themes into parent nodes. Data analysis revealed a statistically significant relationship between gender and EE. This relationship demonstrated that women URM PA educators experience burnout at increased rates compared to men URM PA educators. There were no statistically significant relationships between age (r = .015, R2 = .000225, p = .883), self-identified race (F (1, 98) = .108, p = .744, η2 = .001), faculty role (F (1, 97) = 3.09, p = .082, η2 = .031), and “years in faculty position” and EE (F (1, 99) = .271, p = .604, η2 = .003). The overall predictive model of the demographic variables and EE score was not statistically significant (F(5, 92) = 1.859, p = .109, R2 = .092, adjusted R2 = 0.042). The qualitative data offered insight into burnout perception, contributors, coping strategies, current institutional and programmatic burnout strategies, suggested institutional and programmatic burnout strategies, common occupational stressors, initial responses to occupational stressors, and overall experiences of URM PA educators. Study results yielded insight regarding burnout perception among URM PA educators in the United States. In turn, these findings can be used to inform future health education interventions aimed at preventing burnout among URM PA educators.



Underrepresented minority, Burnout, Emotional exhaustion, Physician assistant, Health intervention, Stress, Coping