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Burnout Among Doctors A Significant Problem Nationwide

When you visit a doctor, you want to be able to trust that you are seeing a trained professional who is committed to helping you recover or preserve your health. Unfortunately, a recent survey has revealed that many doctors feel overworked, emotionally exhausted and disconnected from their work. Such burnout has long been associated with medical mistakes and poor patient care. Burnout among doctors is a serious problem with no clear-cut solution.

The numbers are startling. 37.9 percent of doctors surveyed reported high levels of emotional exhaustion. Nearly 30 percent indicated high levels of depersonalization. The numbers were even worse for doctors working in emergency care, general internal medicine and family medicine. The research was conducted by the Mayo Clinic and the American Medical Association and involved gathering questionnaire responses from 7,288 doctors across the country.

Burnout impacts many professions, but appears to be of particular concern in the medical field. Almost half of all doctors reported at least one sign that they were burning out. When a worker feels disengaged, exhausted and unhappy, the work they do almost always suffers. This is certainly concerning in any field, but the consequences of poor performance are elevated for physicians.

Given the age demographics of the country, the need for skilled and motivated doctors will only grow in upcoming years. If the field as a whole is feeling overburdened and generally fatigued, the problem could quickly become an epidemic. While burnout has no established cure, it is important for those in the medical field to consider what changes are necessary to help doctors continue to do their best work.

Source: CNN Health, "Is your doctor burned out?," by Alexandra Sifferlin, 23 August 2012

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