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Medscape Pediatrician 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 pediatricians 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 Pediatrician Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

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

Pediatricians largely reported being happy outside of work prior to COVID-19 affecting everyday living in March 2020. Eighty-four 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 Pediatrician 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%), 56% of pediatricians 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 Pediatrician Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

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

The percentage of pediatricians who said they were either burned out or both burned out and depressed is similar to that in last year's report (45% vs 41%).

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Medscape Pediatrician Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

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

Sixty-three percent of pediatrician 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 Pediatrician Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

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

The majority of burned-out pediatricians felt that way even before the pandemic began.

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Medscape Pediatrician Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

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

Six in 10 pediatricians who reported burnout pointed to the growing number of bureaucratic tasks as the leading contributor. Lesser factors include having too little compensation or reimbursement, lack of respect from colleagues in the workplace, and spending too many hours at work. (Respondents could choose more than one answer.)

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Medscape Pediatrician Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

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

Half of pediatricians said their top tactic for dealing with burnout is talking with family members or friends. Other high-ranking choices reflect a mix of negative and positive behaviors: 45% of pediatricians said they cope by sleeping; 42% by eating junk food; 42% by exercising; and 40% by isolating themselves from others. Exercise is the most popular choice (48%) among physicians overall. (Respondents could choose more than one answer.)

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Medscape Pediatrician Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

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

The majority (68%) of depressed and/or burned-out pediatricians plan to forego professional care for the problem. Close to a quarter are seeking help now or plan to do so.

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Medscape Pediatrician Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

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

Considering their symptoms not severe enough and feeling that they could deal with the problem a different way are top reasons why pediatricians haven't sought professional help for their burnout and/or depression. (Respondents could choose more than one answer.)

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Medscape Pediatrician Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

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

Twelve percent of pediatricians 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 pediatricians 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 Pediatrician 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 43% of pediatricians. Similarly, among physicians overall, 46% said work-life balance is their top concern.

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Medscape Pediatrician Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

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

About 82% of pediatricians have some degree of anxiety about their future, given COVID-19 — a somewhat greater 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 Pediatrician Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

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

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

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Medscape Pediatrician Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

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

A third of pediatricians generally make time to focus on their own well-being, a similar proportion as for physicians overall (35%).

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Medscape Pediatrician Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

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

Sixty-eight percent of pediatricians say they exercise two or more times per week, similar 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 Pediatrician Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

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

About 16% of pediatricians have five or more drinks per week. Twenty-eight percent 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 Pediatrician Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

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

Toyota and Honda are among the most popular cars among pediatricians, as they are among physicians overall. Respondents were allowed to choose as many makes as applied.

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Medscape Pediatrician Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

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

About half of pediatricians take 3-4 weeks of vacation per year, while 14% take 5 or more weeks. This is similar to the findings of our 2020 report.

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Medscape Pediatrician Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

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

Around half of pediatricians are currently trying to lose weight, with about a third working to maintain their current weight — no easy task during the pandemic.

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Medscape Pediatrician Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

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

The large majority of pediatricians are currently in a committed relationship, with 81% either married or living with a partner. Similarly, 85% of physicians overall report being in such a relationship.

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Medscape Pediatrician Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

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

Eighty-six percent of pediatricians say their marriages are very good or good, similar to the 85% 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 Pediatrician Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

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

Among pediatricians 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 Pediatrician Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

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

The majority (55%) of pediatricians spend up to 10 hours per week online for personal use.

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Medscape Pediatrician Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

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

A large majority (80%) of pediatricians 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, pediatricians 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 Pediatrician Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

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

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Medscape Pediatrician Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

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

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Medscape Pediatrician Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2021

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

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2021

More than 12,000 physicians in various specialties told Medscape about their lives before and during the global pandemic.Medscape Features Slideshow, Jan 2021
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