What causes physician burnout

The medical profession is replete with daily stressors, and these pressures have led to an increase in physician burnout. According to a 2019 Medscape survey, 44% of physicians feel burned out. This burnout can lead to exhaustion, a feeling of a lack of accomplishment, apathy, and, at worst, severe clinical depression.

Every occupation has its inconveniences and aggravations. But there are a few aspects of the medical profession that seem to stand out as causes of burnout.

  • Overabundance of bureaucratic tasks
    • Paperwork and other administrative tasks led the Medscape survey and were cited by 59% of respondents as major contributors to burnout. These jobs have become a big part of the profession and occupy at least 10 hours each week for nearly three-quarters of Medscape respondents. A large number of that group puts at least 20 hours each week into administrative tasks. That’s a large and extremely time-consuming problem.
  • Electronic health records
    • A study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) discovered that EHRs, intended to relieve stressful administrative tasks, are actually contributing to physician burnout. 
  • Stressful overall work conditions
    • The AHRQ found that more than half of primary care physicians feel stressed because of time pressures and a slew of work conditions that include working in a chaotic environment, limited control over work pace, and an unfavorable organizational culture.
  • Poor work/life balance
    • Long hours and a job that can lead to emotional exhaustion can be extremely overwhelming and have an effect outside of the office. Workplace stress can easily find its way into the personal life of physicians, compounding the feeling of burnout.

Addressing the issue of burnout

Alleviating burnout before it becomes consuming and detrimental is essential. Some of the issues that cause burnout can be partly mitigated by broadening a practice and introducing cash-based aesthetic services, according to Dr. Falguni Patel, an obstetrician-gynecologist based in New Jersey.

“While the introduction of aesthetic services won’t solve every problem, it can alleviate some of the financial burden common within today’s healthcare environment,” said Patel. “Prior to introducing aesthetics, I was on my way down the road. I felt that I was a slave to work and didn’t spend quality time with my family. Since adding aesthetic services, I’m now able to strike the balance with good cash flow and enjoying medicine again.”