The latest research shows that just over half of physicians across all specialties and practice settings report experiencing at least one symptom of burnout. While the majority of providers cited too many bureaucratic tasks as the leading cause of burnout, it’s the consequences that are capturing national attention. Recent statistics indicate that, on average, one doctor per day commits suicide in the U.S. – the highest rate of any profession and higher, even, than the suicide rate of combat veterans.
According to the American Medical Association, the main symptoms of burnout include exhaustion, feeling cynical and disconnected from the job, and lacking a sense of personal accomplishment.
Burnout can also lead doctors to become depressed, make major medical errors, and open themselves up to medical malpractice claims.
Many physicians point to systemic issues as a major contributor to burnout, while research also shows a correlation with specialty and practice setting. Although the reasons are varied, at the core of each is a feeling of persistent, overwhelming stress.
It’s critical to address job stress, fatigue and discontent before it becomes burnout. Positive coping skills include exercise, talking with friends and family, and maintaining a good work/life balance. If burnout occurs, options include reduced or flexible work hours, a new work setting, or changes to the practice or staff designed to ease the workload.
Please share your comments with us regarding how to support providers to avoid physician burnout.