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Medscape Obstetrician & Gynecologist Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

Keith L. Martin; Mary Lyn Koval | February 19, 2021 | Contributor Information

Events of the past year challenged the happiness, wellness, and lifestyles of many, but especially those in the healthcare field. Whether on the front lines of treating COVID-19 patients, pivoting from in-person to virtual care, or even having to shutter their practices, physicians faced an onslaught of crises, while political tensions, social unrest, and environmental concerns probably affected their lives outside of medicine.

In this year's report, Medscape explores how obstetricians and gynecologists are coping with burnout, maintaining personal wellness, and viewing their workplaces and their futures amid the pandemic. More than 12,000 physicians in over 29 specialties responded to our survey.

(Note: Some totals in this presentation do not equal 100% due to rounding.)

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Medscape Obstetrician & Gynecologist Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

Keith L. Martin; Mary Lyn Koval | February 19, 2021 | Contributor Information

Ob/gyns largely reported being happy outside of work prior to COVID-19 affecting everyday living in March 2020. Eighty-one percent said they were somewhat or very happy then, similar to the percentage (82%) of physicians overall. Endocrinologists and public health and preventive medicine physicians were ranked highest on happiness outside of work before the pandemic; infectious disease physicians ranked lowest.

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Medscape Obstetrician & Gynecologist Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

Keith L. Martin; Mary Lyn Koval | February 19, 2021 | Contributor Information

As the pandemic has worn on, feelings have shifted, showing signs of strain on the healthcare industry and its doctors. Similar to physicians overall (58%), 57% of ob/gyns say they are now very or somewhat happy outside of work. Perhaps not surprising given the specific challenges around COVID-19, infectious disease physicians (45%), pulmonologists (47%), rheumatologists (49%), and intensivists (49%) currently rank lowest in happiness outside of work.

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Medscape Obstetrician & Gynecologist Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

Keith L. Martin; Mary Lyn Koval | February 19, 2021 | Contributor Information

The percentage of ob/gyns who said they were either burned out or both burned out and depressed is similar to that in last year's report (44% vs 46%).

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Medscape Obstetrician & Gynecologist Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

Keith L. Martin; Mary Lyn Koval | February 19, 2021 | Contributor Information

Seventy-two percent of ob/gyn respondents who reported burnout consider it serious enough to have at least a moderate impact on their lives. One tenth find it so severe that they are thinking of leaving medicine altogether, an unexpected outcome after having spent so many years in training to become a physician.

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Medscape Obstetrician & Gynecologist Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

Keith L. Martin; Mary Lyn Koval | February 19, 2021 | Contributor Information

The large majority of burned-out ob/gyns felt that way even before the pandemic began.

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Medscape Obstetrician & Gynecologist Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

Keith L. Martin; Mary Lyn Koval | February 19, 2021 | Contributor Information

About half of ob/gyns who reported burnout pointed to the growing number of bureaucratic tasks as the leading contributor. Other factors include lack of respect from colleagues in the workplace, having too little compensation or reimbursement, and spending too many hours at work. (Respondents could choose more than one answer.)

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Medscape Obstetrician & Gynecologist Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

Keith L. Martin; Mary Lyn Koval | February 19, 2021 | Contributor Information

Ob/gyns' top tactics for dealing with burnout reflect a mix of negative and positive behaviors. Close to half reported isolating themselves from others, while 43% said they exercise, 42% talk with family members or friends, 41% sleep, and 38% cope by eating junk food. Exercise (48%) is the most popular coping mechanism among physicians overall. (Respondents could choose more than one answer.)

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Medscape Obstetrician & Gynecologist Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

Keith L. Martin; Mary Lyn Koval | February 19, 2021 | Contributor Information

The majority (73%) of depressed and/or burned-out ob/gyns plan to forego professional care for the problem. About a fifth are seeking help now or plan to do so.

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Medscape Obstetrician & Gynecologist Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

Keith L. Martin; Mary Lyn Koval | February 19, 2021 | Contributor Information

Considering their symptoms not severe enough and being too busy are top reasons why ob/gyns haven't sought professional help for their burnout and/or depression. (Respondents could choose more than one answer.)

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Medscape Obstetrician & Gynecologist Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

Keith L. Martin; Mary Lyn Koval | February 19, 2021 | Contributor Information

Nearly a fifth of ob/gyns who are burned out, depressed, or both said they have had thoughts of suicide.

Alarmingly, our survey showed that 1% of burned-out and/or depressed ob/gyns have made suicide attempts, the same percentage as for such physicians overall.

"Anyone who has made a suicide attempt is at greater risk at some point of completing the act," said Carol Bernstein, MD, a psychiatrist at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York.

One physician who admitted to having had suicidal thoughts said, "I yell all the time. I am angry and frustrated all the time. I think about quitting all the time. ... No one [in my organization] cares about doing the right things for patients as much as I do."

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Medscape Obstetrician & Gynecologist Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

Keith L. Martin; Mary Lyn Koval | February 19, 2021 | Contributor Information

Work-life balance is the most pressing workplace issue for 44% of ob/gyns. Similarly, among physicians overall, 46% said work-life balance is their top concern.

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Medscape Obstetrician & Gynecologist Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

Keith L. Martin; Mary Lyn Koval | February 19, 2021 | Contributor Information

About 72% of ob/gyns have some degree of anxiety about their future, given COVID-19 — a somewhat lessser percentage than that of physicians overall (77%). However, The U.S. National Pandemic Emotional Impact Report, a project spearheaded by investigators at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Harvard Medical School, found that 23% of Americans surveyed had no fear of a bleaker future.

"This speaks to a fundamentally positive attitude toward life, even in a pandemic, and echoes the research on resilience in physicians," said Michael F. Myers, MD, a specialist in physician health and professor of clinical psychiatry at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University in Brooklyn, New York. "Physicians who are not paralyzed by anxiety are in a good position to help their patients because they can be hopeful, empathic, and calming."

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Medscape Obstetrician & Gynecologist Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

Keith L. Martin; Mary Lyn Koval | February 19, 2021 | Contributor Information

Forty-nine percent of ob/gyns would sacrifice some of their salary for a better home life, similar to physicians overall (47%).

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Medscape Obstetrician & Gynecologist Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

Keith L. Martin; Mary Lyn Koval | February 19, 2021 | Contributor Information

Thirty-six percent of ob/gyns generally make time to focus on their own well-being, similar to the percentage (35%) for physicians overall.

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Medscape Obstetrician & Gynecologist Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

Keith L. Martin; Mary Lyn Koval | February 19, 2021 | Contributor Information

Sixty-nine percent of ob/gyns say they exercise two or more times per week, close to the percentage (70%) of physicians overall.

In March 2020, the World Health Organization recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity for adults, or a combination of both. The group noted that this is for those in self-quarantine without any symptoms or diagnosis of acute respiratory illness.

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Medscape Obstetrician & Gynecologist Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

Keith L. Martin; Mary Lyn Koval | February 19, 2021 | Contributor Information

About 2 in 10 ob/gyns have five or more drinks per week, around the same percentage who said they do not consume alcohol at all.

Men should not exceed 14 drinks per week and women seven per week, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

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Medscape Obstetrician & Gynecologist Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

Keith L. Martin; Mary Lyn Koval | February 19, 2021 | Contributor Information

Toyota, Honda, and BMW are among the most popular cars among physicians overall; ob/gyns favor Mercedes-Benz as well. Respondents were allowed to choose as many makes as applied.

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Medscape Obstetrician & Gynecologist Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

Keith L. Martin; Mary Lyn Koval | February 19, 2021 | Contributor Information

Nearly half of ob/gyns take 3-4 weeks of vacation per year, while close to a fifth take 5 or more weeks. This is similar to the findings of our 2020 report.

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Medscape Obstetrician & Gynecologist Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

Keith L. Martin; Mary Lyn Koval | February 19, 2021 | Contributor Information

About half of ob/gyns are currently trying to lose weight, with closer to a third working to maintain their current weight — no easy task during the pandemic.

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Medscape Obstetrician & Gynecologist Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

Keith L. Martin; Mary Lyn Koval | February 19, 2021 | Contributor Information

The large majority of ob/gyns are currently in a committed relationship, with 87% either married or living with a partner. Similarly, 85% of physicians overall report being in such a relationship.

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Medscape Obstetrician & Gynecologist Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

Keith L. Martin; Mary Lyn Koval | February 19, 2021 | Contributor Information

Eighty-four percent of ob/gyns say their marriages are very good or good, similar to the 83% who described their marriages that way in last year's report.

Both this year and last, 85% of physicians overall said their marriages were very good or good.

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Medscape Obstetrician & Gynecologist Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

Keith L. Martin; Mary Lyn Koval | February 19, 2021 | Contributor Information

Among ob/gyns who are married or living with a partner, 39% are with someone in the medical field. Similarly, among all such physicians, a notable percentage have a spouse or partner who works in healthcare.

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Medscape Obstetrician & Gynecologist Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

Keith L. Martin; Mary Lyn Koval | February 19, 2021 | Contributor Information

Nearly two thirds of ob/gyns spend up to 10 hours per week online for personal use.

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Medscape Obstetrician & Gynecologist Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

Keith L. Martin; Mary Lyn Koval | February 19, 2021 | Contributor Information

A large majority (82%) of ob/gyns are online for work for up to 10 hours per week. One could assume that that will grow with the rise of telemedicine due to the pandemic. Even when their personal use and professional use are combined, on average, ob/gyns spend far less time online than the nearly 7 hours per day of the average internet user, as reported by Hootsuite and We Are Social.

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Medscape Obstetrician & Gynecologist Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

Keith L. Martin; Mary Lyn Koval | February 19, 2021 | Contributor Information

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Medscape Obstetrician & Gynecologist Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

Keith L. Martin; Mary Lyn Koval | February 19, 2021 | Contributor Information

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Medscape Obstetrician & Gynecologist Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

Keith L. Martin; Mary Lyn Koval | February 19, 2021 | Contributor Information

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