Physicians opting out as nearly half report burnout

Dive Brief:

  • Most (80%) of physicians reported being overextended or at capacity in the Physicians Foundation's latest biennial survey of more than 17,000 U.S. respondents. 
  • More alarmingly, 54% of those surveyed said their morale was somewhat or very negative, and 49% said they often or always feel burnt out.
  • As a result of burnout and other factors, 48% of those surveyed said they plan to reduce their future patient access by retiring, cutting their hours, moving to non-clinical work, switching to “concierge” medicine, or other options--an increase from the foundation's 2014 survey.

Dive Insight:

The rise of physician burnout, including physician suicides, presents an issue for the entire healthcare system, which can't afford to lose the report's predicted tens of thousands of full-time equivalents (FTEs) just as demand surges due to an aging, growing, and more broadly insured population.

The growing demands, however, are much of the issue, with healthcare reform cited as a major pressure. The main sources of dissatisfaction reported in the survey were regulatory and paperwork burdens, as well as loss of clinical autonomy.

The findings echo other reports that have found increasing rates of burnout and blame issues including time pressures, bureaucracy, and EHRs.

The Physicians Foundation survey adds points that bode poorly for the future, including an established downward trend in satisfaction since the survey began in 2008. Currently 62.8% of physicians say they are pessimistic about the future of the profession and about half would not recommend medicine as a career to their children.

“By retiring, taking non-clinical roles or cutting back in various other ways, physicians are essentially voting with their feet and leaving the clinical workforce," stated Walker Ray, president of the Physicians Foundation, adding that healthcare stakeholders need to get more proactive to support physicians and maintain patient access.

Filed Under: Practice Management
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