Physician lifestyle report examines link between home life and work stress

Given the prevalence and dangers of career burnout among physicians, a new study from Medscape examined the ways life outside a physician's practice related to his or her professional stress.

Physicians must take care of their own health and wellness, says Michael W. Smith, M.D., medical director at WebMD. "But the profession--the practices, the employers--has [an] obligation to take care of its doctors." 
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When looking at rates of physician-reported burnout overall, the results were discouraging, with nearly 40 percent of the respondents reported being burned out. Furthermore, those who felt burned out also said they were less confident about their physical health than their less-stressed colleagues.

Other highlights of the study included the following:

  • Specialties with the highest percentage of burnout included those in emergency medicine and critical care, as well as family physicians, OB/GYNs, internists and general surgeons.
  • Doctors with the lowest rates of burnout included pediatricians, rheumatologists, psychiatrists and pathologists.
  • Nearly 40 percent of burned-out physicians take only two weeks or less of vacation each year compared with 25 percent of their happier peers, while only 17 percent of burned-out physicians take 4 or more weeks off compared with 26 percent of their peers.
  • Financial strain may have some correlation with burnout, as 31 percent of burned-out physicians consider themselves to have minimal savings for their age group and professional stage compared with 21 percent of their less-stressed peers.
  • The study found a slight association between having more children and a lower risk of burnout, with 30 percent of burned-out physicians having three or more children compared to 35 percent of non-burned-out doctors.

To learn more:
- see the Medscape report

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