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Physician burnout on the rise

Constrained funding, constantly being asked to do more with less, increased scrutiny and an unclear roadmap for the future—health care’s constant flux is making medicine harder than it should be. And health care workers are feeling the grind. More than half of physicians report feeling exhausted and ineffective, according to a recent Mayo Clinic and American Medical Association study. And it’s even worse for trainees, according to a JAMA study that found doctors in training are more susceptible to depression than the general population.

The media has taken note. But what’s less clear is what to do about it. Here’s a roundup of some of the recent media coverage and what we’re doing to address the issue. 

The Washington Post

Burnout increasing among U.S. doctors

Burnout among U.S. doctors is getting worse, according to a study that shows physicians are worse off today than just three years earlier.

Mayo Clinic researchers, working with the American Medical Association, compared data from 2014 to measures they collected in 2011 and found higher measures on the classic signs of professional burnout. More than half of physicians felt emotionally exhausted and ineffective. More than half also said that work was less meaningful.


A physician's story of mental illness

Kyle Bradford Jones, M.D.

More than 300 physicians commit suicide every year: That’s a higher rate than the national average. Burnout and mental illness have garnered attention both in the mainstream media and medical journals and threaten to exacerbate a growing primary care physician shortage. But despite widespread recognition of this very real problem, a stigma remains among physicians. Thus, many physicians remain reluctant to seek needed care because they think they should be impervious to perceived weakness. However, we cannot properly care for our patients if we have problems that impede our ability to do so.

This is my story of mental illness, and I hope it can help others with similar health issues.


Algorithms for Innovation

Happiness 2.0

While the dissatisfaction hangs over every discipline, there’s no doubt that physicians are at ground zero. Sharp commentaries such as, “How Being a Doctor Became the Most Miserable Profession,” by Daniela Drake, M.D., paint a grim picture of what it’s like to be a physician, in her words “a humiliating undertaking.” On KevinMD, Pamela Wible, M.D., examines a time when she was plagued by suicidal thoughts. The reason? “Bureaucrats and middlemen had inserted themselves between me and my patients and sucked the joy right out of my career.” These aren’t just isolated rants. A growing number of studies point to widespread pessimism: Roughly seven out of 10 physicians said they would not recommend the profession to others. More than half of physicians said they are planning to retire early or scale back practice hours.



29% of Young Doctors Are Depressed: Study

About 30% of young doctors have depression or symptoms of it, according to an exhaustive new review published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). In the new review, researchers led by Dr. Douglas Mata, a resident physician in pathology at Brigham & Women’s Hospital and clinical fellow at Harvard Medical School, analyzed every study that had been published on the topic of residents and depression in a peer-reviewed journal between 1963 and 2015. 


The New York Times

The widespread problem of doctor burnout

The patient, a powerfully built middle-aged restaurant worker, had awakened one morning with a tight pain in his shoulders that traveled down his right arm. At work, he could barely shrug his shoulders or turn his head. “My fingers were so weak,” he recalled, “that I couldn’t even get a good grip around a glass of water.”


Algorithms for Innovation

Guess who's hopeful about health care?

Think academic medicine is stodgy, hidebound or slow to innovate? Think again. Faculty, scientists and administrators of the nation’s teaching hospitals are actually quite progressive and optimistic about the future of medicine.

How do we know? Just for fun, we polled 176 attendees of the annual conference of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) in Baltimore, and asked them to share their hopes and fears. Here’s what we found.


Kaiser Health News 

Physician burnout: It's getting worse

Students in the medical field are also feeling the stress. In a new study, participants portrayed their supervisors as monsters, and themselves as sleep-deprived zombies. And the researchers note that it's not just students who are affected: quality of care suffers when residents are depressed.


Chicago Tribune 

Physician burnout is on the rise

TThe state of our health care system depends, in part, on the state of our health care providers. But research over the last few years has shown that physician burnout is on the rise.



How to identify and prevent physician burnout

The Mayo Clinic's Dr. John Noseworthy and author Quint Studer join Morning Joe to discuss physician burnout and what factors indicate burnout. 

Watch at