Burnout: exploring the differences between U.S. and international medical graduates

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Background: International medical graduates (IMGs) have less burnout than U. S. medical school graduates (USMGs) during residency training. This study evaluates possible correlates of differences in burnout rates between USMGs and IMGs. Methods: We surveyed 375 first-year residents at orientation in June/July 2017. We assessed burnout using the Copenhagen Burnout Inventory (CBI) and used validated scales to measure stress, quality of life (QoL), mastery, and spirituality. We collected data on gender, place of graduation, language fluency, and specialty. We compared CBI scores between USMGs and IMGs, performed a multivariate linear regression analysis of relationships between covariates and CBI subscales, and logistic regression analysis for our categorical definition of burnout. Results: Two hundred twenty-two residents responded for a response rate of 59%. Personal, work or patient- related burnout was common among residents, particularly among USMGs. The most common form of burnout was work-related. Forty nine percent of USMGs have work burnout compared to 26% of IMGs (p < 0.01). In multivariate analysis, being an IMG reduced odds of work-related and of total burnout by 50% (OR 0.5 C.I 0.25-0.99). Perceived mastery was associated with reductions in all subscales of burnout (p < 0.05). Stress and low QoL related to personal and work burnout scores (p < 0.01). Conclusion: Work-related burnout is more common among USMGs than in IMGs. Although mastery, QoL and stress were correlates of burnout among all residents, these factors did not explain the difference. Future studies should evaluate the role of medical school structure and curriculum on differences in burnout rates between the two groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number69
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Curriculum
  • Medical education
  • Physician burnout
  • Well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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