Over one-half of the physicians in the United States are experiencing professional job burnout. A study conducted by Mayo Clinic researchers in partnership with the American Medical Association showed that physicians in the United States are worse off in terms of job burnout than they were three years ago. The study was reported in the Dec. 1, 2105 edition of the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
Compared to physicians, job burnout in all other professions remained at the same levels during the same time frame as the study. The survey results were based on 6,880 physicians across the United States and showed that 54 percent of responding physicians had at least one symptom of burnout. Burnout was defined in the study as feelings of ineffectiveness, loss of meaning in a person’s work, and emotional exhaustion. The same group of physicians was polled in 2011 and in 2014 for the study.
Physician burnout has increased 3.3 percent per year since 2011. Higher levels of depression were not reported. The levels of job burnout were the same across all specialties despite no increase in the number of hours worked by any group. The study cites the high rate of job burnout as a danger to patients, physicians, and the medical system in the United States as it presently exists.
The study indicates that the source of the problem is systemic. The study suggests a reduction in clerical burden, increased flexibility in control of a physician’s workload by the physician, and improved efficiency. The study indicates that present self-help programs have been ineffective in reducing physician burnout. New criteria for selection of a physician may emerge from this study. A burnout score may be added to the host of sites that grade physicians.