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August 22, 2012

BehindTheMedspeak: "Nearly half of doctors report symptoms of burnout"


Up top, a headline from an article in yesterday's USA Today.

Long story short: "The Mayo Clinic reports nearly 1 in 2 (45.8%) of the nation's doctors already suffer a symptom of burnout."


Could've fooled me, 'cause there's no scent of burnout around these parts.

Of course, I have Gray Cat (above, in the midst of a counseling session) to minister to me when the going gets tough.

Other doctors aren't nearly so fortunate.

But I digress.

More excerpts from Janice Lloyd's story below.

Differences varied by specialty: Emergency medicine, general internal medicine, neurology and family medicine reported the highest rates. The authors note other studies show burnout can decrease the quality of care, lead to increased risk for errors and push doctors into early retirement, as well as cause problems in their personal lives.

Being asked to see more patients and not getting enough time with them create an atmosphere of "being on a hamster wheel," says physician Jeff Cain, president-elect of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Also highlighted in the report: Physicians were more likely to complain of burnout than other U.S. workers. When asked about emotional exhaustion, 37.9% of physicians reported signs, compared with 27.8% reported by other workers surveyed.

Participants completed a 22-item Maslach Burnout Inventory questionnaire, considered the gold standard for measuring burnout. The issues examined were emotional exhaustion, depersonalization (treating patients as objects rather than human beings) and low sense of personal accomplishment. Of 27,276 physicians asked to participate, 7,288 (26.7%) responded.

"Depersonalization (treating patients as objects rather than human beings)": I'll have more to say on this subject — and why depersonalization can be lifesaving — in a future BehindTheMedspeak post.

August 22, 2012 at 05:01 PM | Permalink


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Reminds me of a Parkerism I heard for The Very First Time a couple days ago: Brevity is the soul of lingerie.

Posted by: jim` | Aug 23, 2012 10:51:53 AM

Flautist, I hadn't realized that — as you pointed out — the illustrative photo doesn't define Gray Cat's role in the therapeutic process.

This brings to mind Dorothy Parker's response to the news that Calvin Coolidge had died: "How could they tell?"

Posted by: bookofjoe | Aug 23, 2012 6:41:35 AM

don't stop at doctors for suffering from burnout, the whole work force from practitioners on down aren't doing any better. profits trump employee contentment.

Posted by: rob | Aug 23, 2012 12:14:53 AM

About those GC counseling sessions - would she be the counselor or the counselee?
Whichever, it looks like breakthrough therapeutic technique.

Posted by: Flautist | Aug 22, 2012 11:05:45 PM

I look forward to your thoughts on depersonaization.

Posted by: jim` | Aug 22, 2012 7:34:40 PM

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