Survey: Doctors would take pay cut to reduce burnout

2019 10 21 16 13 9859 Doctor Sad Lean Wall 400

Some 50% of physicians queried in a new survey said they would take a salary reduction of as much as $50,000 annually to reduce burnout. Out of 29 medical specialties, pathologists ranked 23rd, with 36% reporting burnout, according to a January 15 report from Medscape.

For the report, Medscape collected responses from 15,181 physicians from 29 different specialties who practiced in the U.S. Factors that contributed to and mechanisms for coping with burnout were as follows:

Effect of burnout on physicians
Factors contributing to burnout
Too many bureaucratic tasks (e.g., paperwork) 55%
Long work hours 33%
Lack of respect from employers, colleagues, or staff 32%
Mechanisms for coping with burnout
Isolation 45%
Exercise 45%
Talking with family and friends 42%
Sleep 40%

"The percentage of physicians feeling burned out remains fairly consistent [compared with the previous year]," Dr. Frank Ninivaggi from Yale New Haven Hospital said in the report. "The leading cause is administrative burden, as driven by the workplace and organizational culture."

On average, about 50% of physicians claimed they would take a salary reduction if it meant having more free time and a better work-life balance, with about a third of these physicians saying they would be willing to give up as much as $50,000 annually.

Being burned out also led to depression in 15% to 18% of the physicians. Roughly 23% of physicians also reported having suicidal thoughts, with about 2% having attempted suicide. The majority of burned out and depressed physicians have not sought professional care (61% to 64%), and between 37% and 57% of the physicians' workplaces do not offer a program to help reduce stress and burnout, according to the report.

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