Physician burnout is an epidemic in the U.S. health care system, with nearly 63% of physicians reporting signs of burnout such as emotional exhaustion and depersonalization at least once per week.- AMA 2023.
According to a study published in the International Journal of Health Sciences in June 2018, physician burnout is a growing problem in the Caribbean. The study surveyed physicians in Barbados, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago and found that 56.7% reported feeling burned out. The most common causes of burnout reported by physicians in the Caribbean were long working hours, heavy workloads, and lack of support from colleagues and the healthcare system. New information is required in light of the global pandemic.
Physician burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged stress in the workplace. It is characterized by feelings of emotional exhaustion, cynicism, and a low sense of personal accomplishment. Symptoms of burnout can lead to reduced quality of patient care, increased medical errors, and a higher risk of physician suicide.
The following are some findings:
1. Causes of Physician Burnout Include:
- Increased administrative workload (e.g. spending more time completing paperwork than providing care)
- Diminished autonomy (e.g. being required to comply with certain protocols that reduce the ability to make decisions independently)
- Increased documentation requirements (e.g. having to document patient visits in a particular format)
- Too little time with patients (e.g. having to see more patients in a day than is comfortable)
- Technology challenges (e.g. difficulty navigating electronic health records or other computer systems)
2. Symptoms of Physician Burnout Include:
- Emotional exhaustion (e.g. feeling emotionally drained at the end of the day)
- Cynicism (e.g. having negative thoughts about patients or colleagues)
- Low sense of personal accomplishment (e.g. feeling unfulfilled or unsatisfied with work)
3. Effects of Physician Burnout Include:
- Reduced quality of patient care (e.g. providing care that is rushed or not as thorough as it should be)
- Increased medical errors (e.g. prescribing the wrong medication or making wrong diagnosis)
- Higher risk of physician suicide (e.g. increased thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts)
4. Strategies for Reducing Burnout Include:
- Take care of your emotional health (e.g. taking time to practice mindfulness or relaxation techniques)
- Make time for yourself (e.g. scheduling regular time off and vacations)
- Prioritize work-life balance (e.g. setting limits on the amount of time spent at work)
- Develop healthy relationships (e.g. having supportive colleagues or mentors)
- Utilize technology wisely (e.g. automating certain tasks or using tools to reduce paperwork)
"While burnout manifests in individuals, it originates in systems. Burnout is not the result of a deficiency in resiliency among physicians, rather it is due to the systems in which physicians work."
—Christine Sinsky, MD, AMA vice president of professional satisfaction
Thanks to the AMA for some of the information and quote.
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