“10 Reasons Doctors Get Burned Out “

The piece lays out a number of troubling statistics, putting burnout rates among surgeons at 30% to 38%. Younger surgeons and female surgeons were at especially high risk.

The authors list some causes of burnout among surgeons and other physicians:

  • Length of training and delayed “gratification”
  • Long working hours and enormous workloads
  • Imbalance between career and family
  • Feeling isolated / not enough time to connect with colleagues
  • Financial issues (salary, budgets, insurance issues)
  • Grief and guilt about patient death or unsatisfactory outcome
  • Insufficient protected research time and funding
  • Sex- and age-related issues
  • Inefficient and/or hostile work environment
  • Setting unrealistic goals or having them imposed on oneself

Frankly I’m surprised they only came up with 10 reason 🙂 Yet, there’s another side to the coin… at least, in this environment, most docs have secure jobs that pay pretty well.

So, why are docs burning out so often… JMHO…

Training has nothing to do with it… I was more than *happy* to pay my dues in return for training to be a qualified surgeon. I had very few unhappy moments as a resident in training… although the workload was a nightmare.

Long works hours and enormous workloads as an attending physician are our own doing. Nobody is holding a gun to our head saying we need to see 65 patients a day or that we need to operate until 9PM. Book less patients, operate on fewer patients, get home at a reasonable hour and the few thousand dollars you give up will be well worth it…

Imbalance between family and career… again, this is usually self imposed. Why do we feel this pressure to see sooooo many patients. Cut your hours, limit the diagnoses you will see, operate to a reasonable hour and enjoy your time with your patients and do not race to leave the OR. If the patients can not wait for 4 weeks for their surgery, so be it… would you want to be operated on by a surgeon who has an opening in his schedule tomorrow ????

Feeling isolated, financial issues, insufficient research time… I know I sound like a broken record, but these are problems we bring upon ourselves. Like email… find 45 min in a day to meet a colleague for lunch, meet after work to play racquetball or organize a card game once a month. Want to communicate with colleagues in the *same boat* log onto www.imedexchange.com and find thousands of docs who are dealing with the same issues you are. Financial concerns ??? We make a very reasonable salary for our efforts. If you cut your schedule to get home and see your kids, are you going to miss that extra money??? Will you be able to retire earlier if you earn 50k more per year? Nope. I’m sorry… except for some internists and family practice docs who must see an enormous number of to *make ends meet*, the rest of us could easily cut back on our hours/patient load to a much more manageable level and still meet most of our financial goals.

Inefficient and or hostile work environment… now we’re onto something here. We work in an industry tied to technology which is hundreds of years old. The pen, paper and the telephone. We are stuck with EMR 1.0 platform choices while there are 100000 iPhone apps available in just a year. Our EMR platforms take forever to figure out but my 3 year old can fly on my iPhone. My office system is tethered and siloed and doesn’t communicate with anyone else’s system. My sec’y needs to fax everything to referrers offices and wait for faxes to come in to make sure our hours and surgeries proceed smoothly. It’s and archaic crazy system. But will I let this lead to burn out… no, but it certainly adds to the stress.

It’s too bad docs are burning out so frequently… I wish they would organize amongst colleagues and help solve the problems that have led them down the path of job dissatisfaction… again… get on iMedexchange.com and help your colleagues out.


About hjluks

A busy Academic Orthopedic Surgeon, Digital Strategist, Chief Medical Officer and father... intently and efficiently navigating the intersection of Social Media and Health Care.
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