Despite widely prevalent burnout and attendant disengagement in medicine, the specific patterns and drivers within pathology and laboratory medicine are uncommonly studied.


To assess the prevalence and drivers of burnout among pathology and laboratory medicine professionals, retrospectively, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.


This was a cross-sectional, mixed-methods study engaging pathology and laboratory medicine professionals as subjects.


Of 2363 respondents, 438 identified as pathologists, 111 as pathology assistants, and 911 as pathology and laboratory professionals. The burnout rate was 58.4% (1380 of 2363) across all respondents in pathology and laboratory medicine. Burnout varied by job role (P < .01) and was highest among pathology and laboratory professionals. Disparities in burnout rate were observed by race. Fifty-six percent (1323 of 2363) of respondents felt that they had at least 1 symptom of burnout and were advancing toward a breaking point. Underlying factors ranked highly among all groups included control over workload and loss of meaning in work.


Data provided from this cohort may help departments create successful strategies to reduce disengagement and burnout in the laboratory, especially during periods of increased stress as experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Further, these data may serve as a baseline comparison for future studies.

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Author notes

Smith and Liauw contributed equally to first authorship position and share first authorship accordingly.

The authors have no relevant financial interest in the products or companies described in this article.

Data from this study were presented as a platform presentation at the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology 110th Annual Meeting; March 3, 2020; Los Angeles, California.