More physicians across all disciplines are reporting more burnout than they ever have before. A combination of long hours and extreme workloads is further pushed over the edge by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many doctors simply no longer have a healthy work-life balance to the point where it is affecting their physical and mental well-being. Due to the extremes of burnout, many doctors are leaving the practice of medicine entirely, making the problem that much more difficult as fewer physicians go around.
Physician Burnout by the Numbers
While burnout is a problem in many fields, it is acutely dangerous for physicians. Overall, 63% of physicians are experiencing burnout. Burnout is a danger to the doctors it directly affects, the medical community at large, and society in general — especially with over half of physicians struggling.
Burnout by Specialty
A report in Forbes found that, while burnout is widespread, certain fields experience higher rates of burnout:
- Emergency medicine: 60%
- Critical care: 56%
- Obstetrics and gynecology: 53%
- Pediatrics: 49%
Burnout by Gender
The study also found another critical factor in burnout: gender. 85% of OBGYNs and 73% of pediatricians identify as women, making burnout a significantly gendered issue.
Fortunately, burnout within the medical community is being more broadly recognized and addressed. There are methods and systems to help you if you are experiencing high levels of stress so that it does not lead to burnout. We will look at some of the causes, symptoms, and solutions for medical burnout and ways you can intervene before it becomes overwhelming.
Why Physician Burnout is a Major Concern for Public Health
Everyone experiences stress in their jobs for the most part. When you couple the experience of 3 years in the COVID-19 pandemic with more patients and fewer doctors in general, you create a system in which physicians and all medical professionals cannot thrive.
Physicians experiencing burnout might not notice symptoms in their patients or drive themselves to work 80 hours a week and physically exhaust themselves. In any scenario involving burnout, the result is a doctor who cannot or does not want to practice anymore, which serves to hurt themselves and possibly their patients.
Many physicians work inside a system that makes it difficult to strike a proper work-life balance. Many hospital systems make it difficult for physicians to work a reasonable amount of hours per week. And with many doctors and nurses leaving the field, it only adds to the workload of those still employed.
Addressing stress before it leads to burnout
The most direct method of reducing stress is ensuring you take time to care for yourself. This may seem counterintuitive when you already feel like you don't have enough time, but you have to exercise, sleep and get proper nutrition, or the rest of your life will suffer.
One way of ensuring that you have that extra time is to delegate some of your responsibilities elsewhere. Telehealth is an excellent place to turn in these scenarios because you can find qualified doctors online to work within your practice to take some of your caseload.
Telehealth platforms like ViTel also automate many practices within your office that are not medically oriented but that you might be taking on yourself, such as administration or billing. Telehealth platforms also are capable of helping you streamline your hiring process so that you always have qualified staff to take the burden of menial tasks off your plate. The difference between 60 hours doing medical processes and 60 hours doing office work is immense.
It is also critical that you take time for leisure. It may be a stereotype, but golf is an excellent way to get physical activity while engaging in a fun, leisurely activity. Both exercise and leisure are great stress relievers, and sports are a good way to combine them.
Joining a Physician Community can help stop burnout
Physician burnout statistics suggest it affects 63% of all physicians practicing now, and many are considering leaving the field entirely. Those in the field often feel overwhelmed, physically ill, or mentally diminished. You must recognize the overwork and stress symptoms before they become burnout and your business and health suffer.
You can mitigate burnout by getting proper exercise and sleep and ensuring a reasonably healthy diet. Making time for leisure and simply disconnecting from work is a lot easier when you have a community like ViTel on your side. Beyond a telehealth and EHR platform, ViTel offers a physician community, training opportunities, and the ability to own your credentials and make finding new opportunities easier.