Disturbing: Physician Burnout Is a Public Health Crisis

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This is alarming: Physician Burnout is higher than ever.  More than half of all doctors report at least one burnout symptom!

depressed female docor

Ethicist Dr. Arthur L. Caplan from New York University’s Langone Medical Center says:

“We’ve got a problem in this country with doctors. It’s kind of an epidemic, but no one is talking about it. It is burnout. A recent study from the Mayo Clinic showed that in 2011, 45.5% of doctors reported that they felt burned out, and that number has now risen to 54.4% in 2014. More than half of all doctors in this country are saying, “I really feel that some aspect of my work as a doctor is making me feel burned out.”

This is really trouble. It’s trouble because a doctor who feels this way can commit more errors. They suffer from compassion fatigue, or just not being able to empathize with others because they have their own emotional issues. They may retire early, thereby reducing the workforce. They may have problems managing their own lives; 400 doctors committed suicide last year, which is double the rate of the population average.There’s trouble for patients in having a workforce that’s burned out. There’s trouble for doctors in terms of their own health and well-being.
One type of fix is to make sure that hospitals and other healthcare environments try to create better conditions for a happy workforce and for happier doctors. This might include yoga, mindfulness training, having more therapists to talk to, encouraging people to come forward when they feel this way, peer groups, and better mentoring.”

Over 15,800 physicians responded from over 25 specialties to a Medscape Lifestyle Report in 2016.
“This year’s Medscape survey, echoing other recent national surveys,strongly suggests that burnout among US physicians has reached a critical level. Burnout in these surveys is defined as loss of enthusiasm for work, feelings of cynicism, and a low sense of personal accomplishment. In this year’s Medscape report, the highest percentages of burnout occurred in critical care, urology, and emergency medicine, all at 55%. Family medicine and internal medicine follow closely at 54%. In last year’s report, the highest percentages of burnout were also in critical care (53%) and emergency medicine (52%). Of note, however, burnout rates for all specialties are higher this year. The 2015 survey published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings compared burnout between 2011 and 2014 and observed an increase in the percentage of physicians reporting at least one burnout symptom, from 45.5% to 54.4%.
In this year’s Medscape lifestyle survey, as in previous years, more female physicians (55%) expressed burnout than their male peers (46%). Of note, however, these percentages have trended up for both men and women since this question was first asked in Medscape’s 2013 survey. In that year, 45% of women and 37% of men reported burnout.

Post any ideas you may have how we can help our doctors be happier!


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