A Health Affairs blog article co-authored this past year by 10 prominent health system CEOs describes the problem of physician burnout as a national public health crisis and “a matter of absolute urgency.”
The numbers support their contention. The Medscape Lifestyle Survey 2017 reveals that 51 percent of physicians report experiencing this energy-depleting affliction, characterized by cynicism, exhaustion, and feelings of inefficacy and apathy. Emergency medicine physicians, obstetrician/gynecologists, family medicine specialists and internal medicine specialists report the highest rates (59, 56, 55 and 55 percent, respectively). The survey of 14,000 physicians found that, overall, burnout has risen 25 percent over the past four years. The six most common causes of burnout in the 2017 study were too many bureaucratic tasks, too many hours, feeling like a cog in a wheel, increasing computerization (EHRs), insufficient income and too many difficult patients.