More Beaches, Less Bureaucracy, Say Burned-Out Cardiologists

Shelley Wood

March 29, 2013

They like beach vacations, they resent bureaucratic tasks, they enjoy spending time with their families, but almost two out of five cardiologists say they are burned out by their busy jobs. These are some of the insights from the 2013 Medscape Physician Lifestyle Report .

On the whole, most of the responses from cardiologists among the more than 24 000 physician respondents to this year's survey echoed those of their peers, with a few notable exceptions. Almost 46% of physicians overall reported at least one symptom of burnout, defined as a loss of enthusiasm for work, feelings of cynicism, and/or a low sense of personal accomplishment. That number was just 38% for cardiologists, landing them 14th on the list.

Emergency physicians and critical care doctors topped the list, with at least 50% having at least one symptom of burnout. Pathologists, followed by psychiatrists, ophthalmologists, rheumatologists, among others, reported the least burnout in the survey.

Key drivers of burnout, according to the 742 cardiologists who responded to the survey, included a surfeit of bureaucratic tasks, long work hours, and worries about the Affordable Care Act. Female cardiologists were much more likely to report burnout than males, at 59% vs 38%. And the most burned-out cardiologists were middle-aged, age 46–55, followed by those aged 56–65.

Not surprisingly, when asked to rank their physical health, cardiologists who described themselves as 'not burned out' also ranked their physical health much higher than their burned out counterparts; they also were more likely to exercise at least twice a week. Burned out physicians were less likely to describe themselves as normal weight or underweight, and more likely to describe themselves as overweight or obese.

In terms of their political views, more than half of the cardiologists--regardless of their level of burnout--described themselves as "socially liberal" although that number rose to 70% for "socially conservative" among the burned out cardiologists and 65% for the nonburned out cardiologists.

Both burned out and nonburned out cardiologists said they liked foreign travel and beaches best for their vacation time, although the number choosing foreign travel was far higher for those who said they weren't suffering from burnout.

The vast majority of cardiologists surveyed were still in their first marriage, although that number was slightly lower in the burnout group.