Physician Burnout: It Just Keeps Getting Worse

Carol Peckham


January 26, 2015

In This Article

Physicians and Happiness

In this year's survey, the lowest happiness scores at work belonged to radiologists (4.46) and, as expected, those on the front line of care: internists and emergency medicine physicians (both 4.50) and family physicians (4.52). Dermatologists (4.95) and ophthalmologists 4.85) had the highest scores for happiness at work (Figure 2).

Figure 2.

Happiness at work, by physician specialty.

Consequences of Burnout

Burnout has been shown to negatively affect patient care.[8] Physician suicide rates are higher than in the general population,[9,10] and a study of medical students also suggested an association between burnout and suicidal ideation.[11] In the Medscape survey, fully half of physicians on the front line of care told us they were burned out; approximately 10% of those burned-out physicians ranked the severity of their burnout at 6 or 7 on scale of 1 ("does not interfere with my life") to 7 ("so severe that I'm thinking of leaving medicine") (Figure 3). The high percentages among urologists and plastic surgeons deserve further investigation.

Figure 3.

Percentage of burned-out physicians with highest severity scores (6 and 7). Based on a scale of 1 ("does not interfere with my life" to 7 ("so severe that I'm thinking of leaving medicine").


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