Which Physicians Are the Least Happy? Burnout in Healthcare

A week after Medscape released their yearly Physician Lifestyle & Happiness report, they released the Medscape National Physician Burnout, Depression & Suicide Report. Like before, Medscape interviewed 15,069 physicians across over 29 different specialties, including ophthalmology.

What were the main takeaways?

Nearly half of physicians (44%) report feeling burned out

In this report, burnout is defined as long-term, unresolvable job stress that results in exhaustion, feeling overwhelmed, increased cynicism, and detachment from the job. People suffering from burnout also report lacking a sense of personal accomplishment.

Ophthalmologists are among the least burned out physicians

Thankfully, most ophthalmologists don’t report burnout (34%). Specialists who experience the most burnout include urologists (54%), neurologists (53%), and people working in physical medicine and rehabilitation (52%).

Specialists who report the least burnout include pathologists (33%), nephrologists (32%), and people who work in public health and preventive medicine (28%).

Multiple factors contribute to burnout

When asked what was contributing to their burnout, physicians reported numerous factors including too many bureaucratic tasks (59%), spending too many hours at work (34%), and increased computerization of their practice, e.g., EHRs (32%).

Physicians use both healthy and unhealthy coping mechanisms

Physicians report coping with burnout by exercising (48%), talking with family members/close friends (43%), and playing or listening to music (33%).

But not all coping mechanisms are healthy. Physicians also report isolating themselves from others (41%), sleeping (39%), and eating junk food (32%) to deal with stress at work.

“I’m drinking more and have become less active,” responded one anesthesiologist in the report.

Suicide is a serious risk for physicians

According to the report, 14% of physicians have experienced thoughts of suicide. These numbers are significantly higher than that of the general population, in which only 4% of adults reported thoughts of suicide.

Another recent report found that physicians have the highest suicide rate of any profession, with a prevalence more than twice that of the general population.

Physician burnout frequently affects the work environment.

Nearly half of all surveyed physicians don’t believe their burnout affects their interaction with patients (47%), but some report becoming easily exasperated with patients (35%) and feeling less motivated to be careful when taking patient notes (history, filling out the EHR, 26%).

Nearly half report becoming more easily exasperated with their staff and peers (47%).

Depression and burnout are serious issues in the physician community. At Sightpath Medical, we do what we can to make your case days as stress-free as possible. Keep an eye on our blog in the future weeks for tips and tricks on reducing your stress levels and living a healthier life.

For more information about Sightpath services, contact us today.