I'm excited about presenting this interview with Dr. Kernan Manion. In our interview, Kernan provides his insights on the interplay between physician burnout and career transition.

Dr. Kernan Manion is a psychiatrist, coach, and consultant. His primary coaching clients are physicians addressing career transition and/or burnout. He also provides consulting programs for hospitals and health systems.

Early in his career, he worked with PTSD, stroke, and head injury patients. In the interview, he describes his journey from practicing psychiatrist, through his own burnout, to coach and consultant.

I learned about his work as I was preparing to launch this podcast. I had written about the factors that seemed to be triggering the explosion in physician career transition. And I devoted my second podcast episode to outlining the steps in such a career pivot.

Then I ran across an announcement on LinkedIn for Dr. Manion’s webinar addressing the Four Key Dynamics of Physician Career Transition and it really intrigued me. So, I reached out to him, had a few conversations and he agreed to an interview.


Kernan explains that burnout is an occupational stress syndrome that affects those in careers with direct personal interactions (physicians, nurses, therapists, etc.). It is characterized by three primary manifestations:

  • Exhaustion
    • Physical
    • Cognitive
    • Emotional
  • Detachment
    • Physical
    • Cognitive
    • Emotional
  • Reduced accomplishment (the sense of accomplishment and actual decreased productivity)

He discusses several very poignant examples from his own life and coaching experiences that demonstrate the destructive consequences of burnout.

Following that discussion, he provides insights into recognizing burnout and the personal actions we can take to prevent and eliminate it. He also discusses the importance of addressing its root causes, most of which are environmental rather than a result of poor resilience or inadequate coping skills.

Burnout and Career Transition

Dr. Manion discusses how burnout is just one of several factors that contribute to the decision to leave one's clinical career. Through his model, the Four Essential Components of Successful Physician Career Transition, he provides a detailed description of the factors that influence the process:

  • Pain associated with our current circumstances driving us towards change;
  • Longing for a more meaningful career inspiring us;
  • Real-world considerations preventing movement; and
  • Self myths tell us we don't have the “right” to change, or the necessary skills or intellect.

In Closing

I found this conversation to be very compelling. It helped me understand what burnout really is, and how it relates to career transition. I was impressed by Kernan’s mastery of the topic.

Updated links:

Coming Up

In Episode 8 of Physician NonClinical Careers, I’ll be explaining Why and How You Must Use LinkedIn. It’s AMAZING how many successful career transitions begin on LinkedIn, especially those involving physicians.

If you enjoyed today’s episode please tell your friends about it. Go to iTunes and SUBSCRIBE. Thanks again for joining me. I really appreciate your time and attention.

Let’s close with a quote, from Joan Baez:

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