Physician Burnout In US: How To Prevent Physicians Burnout

According to the study, physician burnout has reached a new epidemic level with the prevalence of near or exceeding 50% among physicians in practicing and in training in the U.S.

Burnout makes physicians and other healthcare professionals less empathetic toward their patients, leads to dissatisfaction among patients and hits the reputation of healthcare organizations badly.

So the pre-requisite of a good healthcare organization is to have an empathetic workforce. Empathy toward patients helps healthcare employees to put themselves in their patient’s shoes and ensure people from all backgrounds and cultures receive the best possible healthcare.

Physician burnout is a major problem in the medical field. A study published by AMA (American Medical Association) in 2012 showed that as many as 1 out of 3 physicians are suffering from some level of physician burnout. The American Medical Association defines physician burnout as long-term stress reaction characterized by depersonalization, which can have serious implications on health and well-being. 

This is only possible when they are mentally stable and passionate about their work. But to be always passionate about work in the field of healthcare is difficult, due to lack of support, more workload, no work-life balance, the emotional pain of seeing patients losing their life, etc, and these cause burnout in healthcare workers.

As burnout increases, empathy decreases, which affects the quality of treatments. And not only this, but burnout also urges healthcare employees to leave their job. In the year 2021, 1500 healthcare workers resigned from their jobs compared to 2000 workers annually in 2020.

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So to provide better healthcare to the people, healthcare organizations are required to focus on the physical and mental well-being of their employees. To combat employee burnout in healthcare, first, they need to be able to recognize the signs of physician burnout in them.

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Symptoms of Physician Burnout

Being aware of all possible signs and symptoms of physician burnout will help you to prevent employee turnover. Let’s see some signs of burnout that physicians and other healthcare professionals experience during burnout.

Signs of Burnout are

1. Physical and mental exhaustion

The very first sign of physician burnout is extreme exhaustion. This is not just normal tiredness due to a long day at work, but this is more than that. Emotional and physical exhaustion makes them unenthusiastic about their work. Due to exhaustion, they take longer to complete the task than usual.

2. Emotional unavailability

The other major effect of physician burnout is getting irritated on small matters. Being caregivers, physicians and other healthcare professionals have to be patients with patients. They must possess the good listening ability, problem-solving skills, and empathy, but burnout makes them lose all these necessary attributes.

3. Lowered immunity which is transferred to falling sick very often

While suffering from burnout, physicians overlook their health, their habits, and their eating and sleeping patterns. This causes them lower immunity and falls sick again and again.

4. Feeling impending dread about work

5. Not doing things on time

6. Feeling helpless or trapped

7. Frequent back pains, headaches, or muscle aches

Physicians Burnout by Speciality

Physicians of all specialties are indifferent when it comes to burnout. According to JAMA international medicine, 25% of family physicians self-reported the signs of burnout.

Physician burnout leads to lower quality of care, lower patient satisfaction, higher physician turnover rate, and increased chances of medical errors.

The five specialties with the most significant percentage of physician burnout were urology, neurology, nephrology, diabetes, endocrinology, and family physician.

Almost about 13000 physicians were surveyed among 29 specialties, between June 29 to September 21, 2021. And as per the matrix given below, among all the specialties of physicians, the highest rate of physician burnout is in emergency physicians.

SpecialtyBurnout %SpecialtyBurnout %
Emergency medicine60Anesthesiology 47
Critical care56Neurology 46
Gynecology53General surgery44
Infectious diseases51Cardiology42
Family medicine51Nephrology 40
Radiology49Plastic surgery40
Pediatrics49Ophthalmology40
Pulmonary medicine48Oncology36
Urology48Pathology35

Causes of Physician Burnout

To combat or prevent burnout in physicians we have to look for the possible causes of physicians burnout.

1. Too many administrative tasks

The most common cause of physician burnout is the overload of administrative tasks. Physicians have to spend more time on bureaucratic tasks such as charting and paperwork., because of which they don’t get enough time with patients.

Not being able to spend enough time with patients leads to a lack of work satisfaction and is the major cause of physician burnout.

According to a Medscape physician report, 74% of physicians claimed that they spend 10 hours per week on administrative tasks, and 36% of them claimed that they spend 20 hours per week.

2. Lack of time with patients

Physician burnout is the outcome of the lack of work satisfaction of doctors. As administrative tasks are eating up a lot of time for physicians, they hardly get any time with patients.

The most rewarding part of a doctor’s job is to find the answers to patients’ problems and diagnose their diseases but a bunch of paperwork and charting prevent them from doing so and leads to burnout.

According to a Medscape physician report, 55% of physicians claimed that they don’t get enough time with patients.

3. Long Working Hours

According to a Medscape poll, more than half of the physicians work 60hours a week which is the third factor contributing to physician burnout.

Increased numbers of patients and other bureaucratic work compel the doctors to work for long hours which also affects their work-life balance and leads to burnout.

4. Lack of Resources

40% of physicians claimed that lack of resources is the major cause of physician burnout. When doctors are more productive at work, they get job satisfaction and don’t feel burnout. But lack of resources and tools keeps them occupied with cumbersome and repetitive tasks.

Effects of Burnout in Healthcare Professionals

In this age, where the number of baby boomers and chronic diseases is increasing day by day, burnout in healthcare professionals negatively impacts society. A high employee turnover, unsatisfied patients,  financial loss to hospitals, and loss of life are some of the effects of burnout in healthcare professionals.

  • Physician burnout cost 6.3$billion. This is because due to burnout,  a large number of physicians are either leaving their job or cutting down their working hours
  • Burnout causes about 43% of emotional exhaustion in physicians
  • 18% of nurses are suffering from depression due to burnout
  • Physicians are more likely to commit suicide due to burnout

How to Prevent Burnout in Physicians and in other Healthcare professionals

Burnout in healthcare professionals like in physicians, nurses, physician assistants are impossible to eradicate completely, but some measures can be taken to reduce it. The most common solution to prevent burnout in healthcare professionals is to keep them emotionally, mentally, and physically healthy and happy. 

Let’s discuss some of the ways by which you can keep them happy and healthy and help them to be more productive at work.

1. Make a Worker Wellness Routine

The simple and effective way to prevent burnout in healthcare professionals is to take care of them. Create a survey or platform to know about your employee’s well-being. Encourage them to open up about their problems and prioritize solving them.

One of the main reasons for employee burnout in healthcare is an overload of work due to a shortage of employees, so try to hire an optimum number of employees to avoid burnout. Ensure availability of resources so that employees can be fully productive.

2. Social Engagement

Socially active people are happy people. This is true in terms of your healthcare professionals also. Encourage them to work in multiple departments and offer or coordinate the programs to let them interact with other employees.

Organize peer programs, company outings, and mentoring to support their morale and some routine change from the monotonous work.

3. Encourage Healthy Habits

Offering flexible working hours with some breaks, during which they can spend some time for themselves like exercise, and meditation can also help in preventing employee burnout in healthcare. This helps them to remain focused and energetic for the rest of the day.

4. Continued Learning Program

Engage healthcare professionals in learning. You should promote or encourage ongoing learning and different educational situations. This way they can feel confident and stay updated with the current trends in the relevant field and help you in keeping burnout in healthcare professionals at bay.

5. Allow Frequent Breaks

Taking some days off is a preventive measure, for fault-free working.

Let your employees take breaks, and rejuvenate for some time so that they come back stronger and with more energy.

Conclusion

To combat the various challenges of healthcare organizations like employee turnover, and financial losses, and continue to serve humanity, physician burnout and burnout in other healthcare professions need to be addressed soon. And proper measures should be taken to prevent it as much as possible

Burnout in physicians and in other healthcare professionals has led them to leave the profession and creates a void in healthcare organizations. Today many healthcare organizations are striving to provide good healthcare services to people due to the lack of availability of the workforce.

If you are also the one looking for recruiting various healthcare professionals but facing difficulty due to cutthroat market conditions, then take help from Ampliz.

Ampliz helps you to hire qualified and experienced candidates who promise to work with you for a longer period. Ampliz provides you with an authentic, reliable, and updated database of healthcare professionals with their names, contact numbers, email IDs, skills, and Linkedin profiles looking for a better opportunity.