The widespread problem of Doctor burnout has has been on the forefront of medical news lately after findings from a national survey which included more than 7,000 doctors revealed that nearly half of US physicians struggle with burnout.

“More than four in 10 U.S. physicians said they were emotionally exhausted or felt a high degree of cynicism, or “depersonalization,” toward their patients, said researchers whose findings appeared in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

“The high rate of burnout has consequences not only for the individual physicians, but also for the patients they are caring for,” said Tait Shanafelt of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, who led the research. Source: Reuters

The study also revealed that doctors practicing in specialties at the front line of care including emergency medicine, general internal medicine, and family medicine appear to be at greater risk of burnout.

In this setting, “doctors are losing their inspiration,” Dr. Shanafelt said, “and that is a very frightening thing.” Source: NYT

We talked to our Cureus Editorial Board members about physician burnout — Dr. Johathan S. Weiss, M.D. offered up his insight.

“Given my experience in Academics, burnout occurs due to relatively low pay while working under conditions of high pressure to publish, perform at a high level and produce funding for research.”

Although it’s still not clear why burnout strikes so many doctors — Dr. Shanafelt is convinced that “excessive workloads are only part of the equation”. He cites other possible reasons include “too much paperwork, loss of professional autonomy and a higher patient load to make up for declining reimbursement rates.”