Physicians 25% More Burned Out Since 2013


As the medical spa industry continues to rise in prominence, as does work for physicians. Physical and mental exhaustion can lead physicians to feel burnout—a loss of enthusiasm for work, low sense of accomplishment and feelings of cynicism. Medscape has been polling doctors on burnout in their Physician Lifestyle Survey since 2013, and the numbers have only gone up.

Rising Numbers

51% of this year’s 14,000 surveyed physicians reported burnout, a 25% increase since 2013. Dermatologists ranked relatively low on the scales at 46% (up 3% from 2016’s survey). Burnout in plastic surgeons, however, rose dramatically: 53% in 2017, compared to last year’s 45%.

Medscape also asked the severity of burnout on a scale of 1–7 (or, “burnout does not interfere with participants’ lives” to “burnout so severe that participants consider leaving medicine”). Both dermatologists and plastic surgeons came in at 4.3, slightly above the average response.

Bureaucratic tasks and long work hours are the leading causes of this burnout, the same as in Medscape’s previous two surveys. Increasing use of electronic health records (EHR) and technology plays its part in burnout as well; ever-evolving technology leads to workflow changes and a high amount of data entry on physicians’ shoulders. Consumers and patients today have become accustomed to a streamlined technology process, to the point of it being an expectation in offices and spas, not just a perk.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

While the numbers point toward dermatologists and plastic surgeons becoming increasingly burnt out at work, the figures seem to be leveling out for both male and female physicians overall—55% and 45% of women and men, respectively, reported burnout, results similar to those in 2016. Cosmetic medicine is dominated by male physicians (according to the Association of American Medical Colleges) who overall polled as happier outside of work, polling at 69% compared to the 67% female response. Physician happiness levels are lower at work however: Only 45% of men and 39% of women reported being very to extremely happy.

Dermatologists topped the charts as the happiest physicians at work, with 43% responding that they were either very or extremely happy, up from last year’s 39%. They came in second for happiness levels outside of work, tying with ophthalmologists at 74%. Plastic surgeons fared a bit lower, with 32% and 67% happy in and out of work.

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