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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2022

Sylvie M. Baggett; Keith L. Martin | January 14, 2022 | Contributor Information

In the wake of a global pandemic, many are re-evaluating their lifestyles and where they can find happiness. For physicians, the struggles that COVID-19 continues to bring, like dealing with vaccine misinformation or adjusting to hybrid work models, can affect their lives beyond practicing medicine.

This year's report explores the ways in which physicians are prioritizing wellness, work-life balance, how their relationships have fared, and more. More than 10,000 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 Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2022

Sylvie M. Baggett; Keith L. Martin | January 14, 2022 | Contributor Information

Similar to last year's report, 8 in 10 physicians overall said they were "very" or "somewhat" happy prior to the global pandemic, with similar percentages among men (82%) and women (80%).

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2022

Sylvie M. Baggett; Keith L. Martin | January 14, 2022 | Contributor Information

The stress and strain of the pandemic has clearly affected physician happiness. Overall, only 6 in 10 physicians said they are currently "very" or "somewhat" happy.

Wayne M. Sotile, PhD, founder of The Center for Physician Resilience, says he has counseled doctors who are weary from witnessing COVID-related suffering and death, only to come home to a partner who doesn't believe that the pandemic is real and/or to deal with peers not adhering to safety protocols.

Sotile notes, "One physician said recently, 'Because of my exposure to them, those people are putting my family at risk. It's time for leaders in this organization to step up and hold people accountable. Either adhere or leave.'"

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2022

Sylvie M. Baggett; Keith L. Martin | January 14, 2022 | Contributor Information

Spending time doing the activities they love and with the people they love is key to staying happy, according to respondents. Frequent responses to "other" included religious practices/prayer, reducing work hours/working part time, and spending time with pets.

Alexis Polles, MD, medical director for the Professionals Resource Network, which assists impaired physicians, says when doctors' lives get "unbalanced," they need to find things that restore energy and joy.

"I think it's important — and I recently did this — to make a personal inventory of three things that are most important [in a doctor's life] and in what ways are they paying attention to them," she says. "And you do it every once in a while, as those things change throughout a career."

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2022

Sylvie M. Baggett; Keith L. Martin | January 14, 2022 | Contributor Information

Among physicians balancing parenthood and a medical profession, female physicians noted feeling conflicted more often than their male peers (48% vs 29%). Overall, 35% of physician parents noted being "very conflicted" or "conflicted" due to their professional demands.

Nicole A. Sparks, MD, an ob/gyn and a health and lifestyle blogger, says she feels conflicted as a parent, balancing 24-hour shifts and call shifts with her demands at home.

"As a mother of two young children, they notice when their mother is not there — when I am not there to help with homework or read bedtime stories or make them dinner," she says. "Mom guilt can definitely set in if I have to miss important events."

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2022

Sylvie M. Baggett; Keith L. Martin | January 14, 2022 | Contributor Information

A greater percentage of male physicians (38% vs 27% of female physicians) say they "always" or "most of the time" have time to focus on their own health and wellness.

Professionals Resource Network's Polles says recognizing the value of time for wellness is an extremely important first step for physicians.

"When we work with professionals who have problems with mental health or substance abuse, they often don't have a balanced life," she says. "They are usually in a workaholic mindset and disregard their own needs."

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2022

Sylvie M. Baggett; Keith L. Martin | January 14, 2022 | Contributor Information

Around a third of physicians, both male and female, say they exercise four or more times per week.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says adults gain the most health benefits from the equivalent of 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity each week. Additional health benefits are gained by surpassing this benchmark, the CDC says, and age should also be a factor.

Polles says exercising after a shift can help physicians feel the move from professional to personal life. "Planning an activity right after you leave [a shift] helps transition out of work. Even just changing clothes so you take on a different look can help you become more relaxed."

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2022

Sylvie M. Baggett; Keith L. Martin | January 14, 2022 | Contributor Information

Both male (49%) and female (55%) physicians who responded to our survey are currently trying to lose weight.

At the onset of the pandemic, many Americans gained weight while in quarantine. In fact, a survey by weight loss program Nutrisystem found that 76% of respondents gained up to 16 pounds while in self-isolation. The same research indicates that 63% are not focusing on losing weight post-quarantine.

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2022

Sylvie M. Baggett; Keith L. Martin | January 14, 2022 | Contributor Information

A slightly higher percentage of female physicians (60%) are willing to take a cut in pay for better work-life balance or more free time compared with their male counterparts (53%).

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2022

Sylvie M. Baggett; Keith L. Martin | January 14, 2022 | Contributor Information

Overall, among physicians who consume alcohol, around a third have three or more drinks per week.

The CDC defines "heavy drinking" as consuming 15 drinks or more per week for men, and eight drinks or more per week for women.

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2022

Sylvie M. Baggett; Keith L. Martin | January 14, 2022 | Contributor Information

The vast majority of physicians say they do not use CBD or cannabis on a regular basis. If it becomes legal in their state, 4% of both male and female physicians say they would use at least one of the substances.

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2022

Sylvie M. Baggett; Keith L. Martin | January 14, 2022 | Contributor Information

A little over a third of both male (37%) and female (38%) physicians spend 11 or more hours per week on the internet for personal use.

The majority of physicians are spending up to 10 non-work hours online weekly. For context, the average US internet user spends nearly 7 hours online per day, according to a recent report by Hootsuite and We Are Social.

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2022

Sylvie M. Baggett; Keith L. Martin | January 14, 2022 | Contributor Information

When it comes to spending 11 or more hours on the internet for their work, female physicians (35%) have a slight edge on their male peers (31%).

A large majority of physicians are online up to 10 hours per week for work. However, the number of physicians spending 21 or more hours online for professional use increased from 2% last year to 15% this year, indicating that the use of telemedicine among physicians and patients is growing amid the pandemic.

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2022

Sylvie M. Baggett; Keith L. Martin | January 14, 2022 | Contributor Information

The majority of physicians overall are in a committed relationship, with 83% either married or living with a partner. This percentage is higher for male physicians (89%) than female physicians (75%).

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2022

Sylvie M. Baggett; Keith L. Martin | January 14, 2022 | Contributor Information

Eight in 10 physicians overall say they are in a "very good" or "good" marriage, similar to last year's report (85%).

Wayne Sotile, co-author of The Thriving Physician: How to Avoid Burnout by Choosing Resilience Throughout Your Medical Career, says most physicians that his center has counseled during the pandemic have reported a hard reset of their work-family lifestyle.

"We've heard, 'I've connected more with my spouse and children during the past 18 months than I ever have,'" he says. "And 'Historically, our lifestyle was filled not only with my work, but also with our collective family 'busyness.' … I think that keeping our kids as busy as we are was a misguided way of normalizing a lifestyle that we are now changing.'"

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2022

Sylvie M. Baggett; Keith L. Martin | January 14, 2022 | Contributor Information

Most physicians, no matter the specialty, appear to be in happy marriages. While at least three quarters of physicians in each specialty described their union as "very good" or "good," otolaryngologists and immunologists topped the list (both 91%), followed closely by dermatologists, rheumatologists, and nephrologists (all 90%).

Sotile says the key to relationship happiness is within-couple role agreement, appreciating the contributions to the family or union.

Detrimental to relationship health is "work shaming," Sotile says. "For some, the pandemic added fodder to this festering. The 'How could you put our family at risk by going to work? Just say no' guilt trip damaged the souls of many physicians and the trust and friendship that should be the foundation of any good marriage."

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2022

Sylvie M. Baggett; Keith L. Martin | January 14, 2022 | Contributor Information

Among physicians, men more often have non-physician partners (32%) than do women (12%). Conversely, women more often have spouses/partners who are physicians (24%) than do men (15%).

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2022

Sylvie M. Baggett; Keith L. Martin | January 14, 2022 | Contributor Information

Nearly 7 in 10 physicians, male and female, have a religious or spiritual belief.

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2022

Sylvie M. Baggett; Keith L. Martin | January 14, 2022 | Contributor Information

For the fifth straight year, the most popular cars among physicians remain Toyotas, Hondas, and BMWs.

Respondents were allowed to choose as many makes as applied.

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2022

Sylvie M. Baggett; Keith L. Martin | January 14, 2022 | Contributor Information

One fifth of all physicians take 5 or more weeks of vacation each year, with no differences among male and female physicians.

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2022

Sylvie M. Baggett; Keith L. Martin | January 14, 2022 | Contributor Information

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2022

Sylvie M. Baggett; Keith L. Martin | January 14, 2022 | Contributor Information

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2022

Sylvie M. Baggett; Keith L. Martin | January 14, 2022 | Contributor Information

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