10 Scary Statistics on Physician Burnout

Posted by Adam Rapp | Medical Education

Jan 11, 2016

Understanding the seriousness of physician burnout by looking at the numbers.

According to Merriam-Webster, the term “burnout” is defined as: exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration. In a profession as chaotic and consequential as healthcare, there is certainly no shortage of prolonged stress or frustration. That’s why it is not too surprising to learn that physicians have a higher burnout rate than that of the general population.


However, that only tells part of the story. The surprising part isn’t the fact that physician’s burnout rate is higher, but how much higher. And what’s even more concerning is the negative impact it can have on not only those practicing medicine, but also their patients.


Several studies have shown that burnout can decrease a physician’s ability to adequately treat their patients. Physicians have a natural tendency to place the needs of their patients above their own – there’s nothing wrong with that, it pretty much comes with the job description. Their job is to make a patient better, and consequences can oftentimes be dire. Therefore, when a physician is dealing with symptoms of burnout, it the magnitude can be much higher than that of another profession.


Physician Burnout Statistics | eMedCert


Impaired judgment, lack of attention to detail, and communication failure are just a few of the many negative influences brought on by physician burnout – all of which can lead to a patient not getting proper treatment. Frustration, anger, and resentment are several others that will have a personal impact on the physician himself/herself, which can lead to depression and even suicide. Either way, when physician burnout is involved, nobody wins.


Here’s 10 scary stats on physician burnout to help show just how serious of a problem it is:

- 67% of doctors surveyed know a physician who is likely to stop practicing medicine within the next 5 years, as the result of physician burnout - LINK


- Physicians are more than twice as likely to commit suicide than the general population - LINK


- Medical students rate of depression is 15%-30% higher than that of the general public - LINK


- In 2013, 39.8% of physicians responded that they were burned out. In 2015, that number jumped up to 46% - LINK


- Physicians are almost twice as likely (40.2% to 23.2%) to be dissatisfied with their work-life balance than the average working U.S. adult - LINK


- Each year, roughly 300-400 U.S. physicians commit suicide - LINK


- Over half (51%) of female physicians across all specialties reported burnout in 2015 - LINK


- In the U.S. suicide deaths are roughly 250%-400% higher among female physicians when compared to females in other occupations - LINK


- Physicians aged 35 and under have a burnout rate of 44% - LINK


- 25% of medical residents said that if they were to begin their education again, they would choose a field other than medicine - LINK

If you or someone you know is suffering from physician burnout: don’t be ashamed, get help. Not only the life of your patients could be on the line, but yours could as well.