Nearly 40% of US doctors are burnt-out and half would be willing to take a pay cut for better hours


American physicians are burnt-out and would take a substantial pay cut for better hours, a new survey has found.

Researchers found that almost half of Generation X physicians (ages 40 to 54) reported feeling burnt-out mainly due to too many bureaucratic tasks and lack of respect from bosses and colleagues.

By comparison, 38 percent of millennials (ages 25 to 39) and 39 percent of baby boomers (ages 55 to 73) reported burnout. 

What’s more, 50 percent of doctors surveyed said they would be willing to take a pay cut for reduced hours and more work-life balance.  

For the report from medical information site Medscape, surveyors recruited more than 15,000 physicians across 29 specialties between June 25 and September 19.

Burnout was described as ‘long-term, unresolved, job-related stress leading to exhaustion, cynicism, detachment from job responsibilities, and lacking a sense of personal accomplishment.’

It’s become so prevalent across several professions that it is officially recognized as a chronic syndrome by the World Health Organization.

Rates are much higher among medical professionals due to factors such as grueling schedules and several administrative tasks.

Overall rates of burnout were found to be on the decline – 42 percent in 2019 compared to 46 percent in 2015 – but still persisting.

Burnout was highest among urologists (54 percent), neurologists (50 percent), and nephrologists, specializing in kidney care an (49 percent).

Lowest rates were seen among orthopedists (34 percent), ophthalmologists (30 percent), and public health and preventive medicine specialists (29 percent).

Female physicians across all specialties were also 25 percent more likely to report burnout compared to their male colleagues.

The report also found that healthcare burnout negatively affected both professional and personal relationships.

Nearly three-quarters of all physicians, across generations, said their personal relationships had been affected.

Close to 40 percent of those surveyed said their burnout caused them to become easily exasperated with patients and almost 20 percent said they could express frustration in front of patients.

About one in five doctors said they were depressed, with rates highest among Generation Xers. Around 18 percent had also contemplated suicide.

As for what is driving burnout, 55 percent of all physicians said too many administrative tasks such as charting and paperwork followed by too many hours spent at work.

Generation Xers and millennials also listed a lack of respect from employers, colleagues and staff as one of their top three reasons.

For baby boomers, they cited the increased computerization of electronic health record as one of their top concerns.

Half of all doctors surveyed said they would be willing to take a pay cut of up to $20,000 for more free time to spend with friends and family.

About one-third say they would be willing to reduce their pay by as much as $50,000 for better hours and a better work-life balance,

‘Our 2020 report shows that while dropping slightly over time, the levels of burnout, and related depression and suicidal thoughts among all physicians remains a concern,’ said Leslie Kane senior director of Medscape Business of Medicine.

‘However, this year’s report finds that there are generational differences in the rates, severity, and factors contributing to the problem.

‘Perhaps these findings can help inform the development of programs that speak to generational and gender differences with respect to burnout, so that we can help drive meaningful change.’ 


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