Physician burnout is on the rise, and now affects more than half of U.S. doctors. The epidemic has far-reaching consequences not only for physicians, but also for their families, patients, the whole healthcare team, and the greater healthcare system.
Burnout is characterized by three symptoms: exhaustion, cynicism or dehumanization, and sense of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.
Physicians face burnout at double the rate of other U.S. professions. Nurses are also acutely affected. Specialties that are on the front lines of healthcare access — emergency medicine, general internal medicine, and family medicine — carry the greatest risk of burnout.
Burnout has also been linked to hopelessness and a higher risk of suicide. The statistics for physician suicide are alarming:
- Approximately 300-400 physicians commit suicide each year, or about 1 each day.
- The suicide rate among physicians is than in the general population.
If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or use the Lifeline Crisis Chat.
Many organizations are making efforts and compiling resources to help with this epidemic:
- Learn more about what the Gold Foundation is doing
- CHARM-Arnold P. Gold Foundation Charter on Physician Well-Being, published in JAMA
- CHARM Annotated Bibliography of Evidence-Based Interventions for Medical Student, Trainee and Practicing Physician Wellbeing
- American College of Physicians Practice Advisor Module: Making the Case to Address Clinician Burnout (free registration required)
- American Medical Association’s Physician Burnout Portal
- American Medical Association’s StepsForward Module
- American Psychiatric Association’s Well-Being and Burnout Portal
- Association of American Medical Colleges’ Well-Being in Academic Medicine Portal
- National Academy of Medicine’s Clinician Well-Being Knowledge Hub
- Well-Being in Graduate Medical Education: A Call for Action, published in Academic Medicine
- A Roadmap for Research on Resident Well-Being, published in The American Journal of Medicine