Nov 25, 2018
Doctors are burned out.
William Osler warned us of this is his Speech Aequanimitas that I highlighted a couple of episodes back. In a speech given in 1889 to the graduation medical students at the University of Pennsylvania:
“…I would warn you against the trials of the day soon to come to some of you—the day of large and successful practice. Engrossed late and soon in professional cares, getting and spending, you may so lay waste your powers that you may find, too late, with hearts given away, that there is no place in your habit-stricken souls for those gentler influences which make life worth living.”
Here are some stats from the physician’s foundation 2018 survey of american physicians. These stats are from 8,774 physician responses. 80% of physicians are at full capacity or are overextended. 78% sometimes, often or always experience feelings of burnout. 55% describe their morale as somewhat or very negative. 46% plan to change career paths. 49% would not recommend medicine as a career to their children 23% of physician time is spent on non-clinical paperwork. Physicians indicate electronic health records (EHR) are their greatest source of professional dissatisfaction.
Why should we as patients care if our physicians are burning out? Physicians who are burned out make more mistakes, are less productive, have worse patient outcomes and patient satisfaction scores, leave medicine in favor of other jobs or retirement, become depressed, may do harm to themselves and generally aren’t any fun to be around.