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21 Sep 2012

Physicians Burning Out

Community, Healthcare, Physician Licensing No Comments

New research shows that U.S. physicians suffer from more burnout than other workers in the country. The study’s authors note several factors for the burnout, including the impact of indirect clinical tasks such as paperwork getting in the way of the physician-patient relationship. With the rising trends & growing demands on our overtaxed physicians & healthcare system, it’s important that some of the more menial tasks riddled with endless paperwork, like licensing & credentialing, be delegated to others that can alleviate some of the components of this increasing burnout among physicians. Outsourcing to mitigate the burnout may not only be time saving & cost effective, but may very well reduce the health risks involved with the burnout & prove longevity for a physician’s career.

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“The fact that almost 1 in 2 US physicians has symptoms of burnout implies that the origins of this problem are rooted in the environment and care delivery system rather than in the personal characteristics of a few susceptible individuals. Policy-makers and health care organizations must address the problem of physician burnout for the sake of physicians and their patients,” the authors, led by Tait D. Shanafelt, MD, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, write.
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Almost 40 percent of those physicians surveyed exhibited high levels of emotional exhaustion and 30 percent showed evidence of a high level of depersonalization. In addition, more than 12 percent had a low sense of personal accomplishment. Investigators found that, taken together, almost half of the 7000 physicians surveyed were experiencing at least 1 symptom of burnout.
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Burnout rates were found to be highest for family medicine, general internal medicine, and emergency medicine physicians. Dissatisfaction with work-life balance was found to be slightly higher among female physicians as well as those practicing general surgery, general surgery subspecialties, and obstetrics/gynecology.
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“Two consistent factors that seem to be driving burnout are lack of control or autonomy and loss of meaning in what physicians do,” coinvestigator Colin West, MD, PhD, who is also from the Mayo Clinic, told Medscape Medical News. For example, respondents cited indirect clinical tasks as getting in the way of the physician-patient relationship — forms to fill out, dictation, endless paperwork — “all of which take a heavy toll that has gotten heavier in the past 10 years,” Dr. West added.
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“We don’t have a good understanding of what is leading to the loss of meaning,” he noted. But clearly, physicians who lose sight of the ideals that propelled them into medicine in the first place are the ones “at great risk” for being dissatisfied, he noted. “Patients say they are dissatisfied because physicians spend so little time with them, but beyond the face-to-face visit, the reality is that there are so many other tasks that must be taken care of, and physicians have to get them done,” Dr. West said.
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“We don’t yet know whether coming healthcare reforms will make this better or worse, but regardless of what shape healthcare reforms end up taking, there will be increased demand on frontline providers, which is the very group we’ve identified as being under the most strain already, so we have to be mindful of future risks,” said Dr. West.
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About the Study

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Extensive data on physician burnout have been published, but to the investigators’ knowledge, no national study has yet evaluated rates of burnout among US physicians or explored differences in burnout by specialty. Burnout among US physicians has also not been previously compared with burnout among US workers in other fields. Dr. Shanafelt and colleagues therefore conducted a national study of burnout among physicians from all specialties using the American Medical Association Physician Masterfile. Responses from 7288 physicians were compared with those of a sample of 3442 working adults from the general population. More than 6000 of the physicians surveyed were also compared with 3442 control participants who were working in the United States but not as physicians.
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Funding for the study was provided by the American Medical Association and by the Mayo Clinic Department of Medicine Program on Physician Well-Being. The authors have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.
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The survey findings were published online August 20 in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
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The information & quotes from this article are taken from Medscape Medical News writer Pam Harrison.
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For more information on this article, please visit:

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/769565?src=top10

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About Physician Licensing Service

Now in our 15th year of business, Physician Licensing Service has been changing the face of healthcare licensure.  We have developed a proven system to remove the barriers common to state medical licenses and get doctors practicing in record time.  Our business model focuses on simplifying the process for all involved parties. This includes the state medical boards themselves, because PLS takes great care to keep abreast of their updates in this ever changing field, and work within those guidelines. For a doctor seeking a medical license, PLS will take on the entire process, including eligibility research, paperwork, verifications, and follow up.

 

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