In November of 2022, InCrowd surveyed 500 US physicians to track burnout.
In 2022, reports showed that physician burnout had risen to frightening levels. In November of that year, InCrowd surveyed US physicians to understand how physicians are managing work-related stress and burnout, to explore physician feelings on their profession, and better understand how medical facilities can address physician burnout. Compared to data from 2021, physicians reported increases in challenges managing work-related stress and burnout. In an unaided question, InCrowd asked how physicians are managing their work-related stress. The themes that arose included exercise, spending time with family and friends, meditation, and focusing on hobbies, among others.
Unaided Responses for Managed Work-Related Stress
Even though physicians are putting effort into preventing burnout, the issue persists. As you can see below in Figure 2, compared to data that InCrowd collected in November 2021, significantly more physicians feel frustrated by the pressure put on healthcare professionals (HCPs) in today’s world, and significantly more know a colleague who has left the profession due to burnout. Fewer physicians are finding their profession rewarding and even fewer feel appreciated at work. A Georgia-based cardiologist explained, “I do feel burnout and underappreciated in my job. [The] health system is hard to navigate and [has] too many admin hurdles.” Down from 45% in 2021, only 30% of respondents in 2022 find their profession extremely rewarding. Fewer physicians would encourage their children to pursue their careers compared to prior years, and almost none of them feel optimistic about the state of public health in the US. As you can see, physicians reported increases across the board in stress-related concerns, decreases in job satisfaction, and only 10% feel their medical facility is effectively addressing staff burnout.
When asked how physicians’ medical practices/facilities can help address burnout, they recommended their employers increase staffing for support staff, reduce patient volume, require vacation time, and increase physician staffing. Compared to 2019, over half of the respondents feel an increased need for physician staffing could help address burnout. One community-based surgeon from Connecticut described that their organization, “does not arrange for appropriate staffing to prevent [the] need for working overtime to cover clinical duties and has been ineffective in staff retention which leads to further dissatisfaction.” Another physician expressed, “We are constantly short-staffed and picking up for others.”
Physicians express a surprising level of pessimism for their future. They are burned out; they don’t feel supported by their employers; they would not recommend health care as a profession to their loved ones; and they are not optimistic about the state of public health in the US. These data give a bleak outlook on physician mental health and show that treating burnout needs to be made a priority for the future of the US healthcare ecosystem and the quality of care patients receive.
But there is hope! Physicians feel there is much work to be done and offer many ways we can improve their quality of life resulting in better care outcomes for patients and long-term cost-savings. Increasing physician staffing might be the first step to solving this issue, followed by increasing support staff, reducing patient volume, and requiring vacation time.
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