At the beginning of every flight, there is a reminder to “put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping others.” We must be reminded that we cannot effectively help others before we take care of ourselves. Although this is a longstanding adage in aviation, it is a newer concept in medicine. The practice of anesthesiology requires dedication to lifelong learning and the ability to quickly respond to catastrophic events. Our patients depend on us to be ever-vigilant, quick-thinking and focused for the length of the case; their lives depend on us and our well-being and health.

Richard Gunderman, M.D., Ph.D., describes burnout as “the sum total of hundreds of tiny betrayals of purpose, each one so minute that it hardly attracts notice.” Burnout is a term used ubiquitously in the lay and scientific press describing when the job of...

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