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British Medical Journal: Autonomy, mastery, respect, and fulfillment are key to avoiding moral injury in physicians

Moral injury occurs when the basic elements of the medical profession are eroded, say Simon G Talbot and Wendy Dean. But how to avoid moral injury in physicians?

In July 2018, the physicians wrote an article that reframed clinician distress as moral injury, rather than burnout. In our view, “burnout” suggests a lack of resilience on the part of clinicians, implying that better self-care will resolve our distress, whereas “moral injury” more accurately locates the source of distress in a conflict ridden healthcare system.

Now, featured in the BMJ, they’ve expanded on what to do next.

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STATNews: Physicians aren’t ‘burning out.’ They’re suffering from moral injury.

Wendy Dean, MD, and Simon Talbot, MD, explore the origin of physician distress with their landmark article on Moral Injury, Physicians aren’t ‘burning out.’ They’re suffering from moral injury.

Moral injury is frequently mischaracterized. In combat veterans it is diagnosed as post-traumatic stress; among physicians it’s portrayed as burnout. But without understanding the critical difference between burnout and moral injury, the wounds will never heal and physicians and patients alike will continue to suffer the consequences.

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