2022 Medscape Reports: Physician Burnout, Depression, and Suicide

One in ten physicians reported that they have thought about or attempted suicide according to the 2022 Medscape Survey. General surgeons were among the specialist groups with higher rates of suicidal thoughts. According to research, physicians have suicidal thoughts at about twice the rate of the general population. Physician burnout is a major cause of suicidal ideation. As a result, addressing physician suicide requires a deeper understanding of physician burnout.

Physician Burnout

“Burnout can be a vulnerability factor that leads to depression, and depression can make an individual more likely to suffer burnout.”

     – Dr. Peter Yellowlees, MBBS, MD

The Top 5 Factors that Contribute to Burnout include:

  • Too many bureaucratic tasks
  • Lack of respect from administration/employers
  • Too many hours at work
  • Lack of control/autonomy
  • Insufficient compensation/salary

Dr. Yellowlees, chief wellness officer for UC Davis Health and professor of psychiatry at the University of California, also stated that “close and intimate relationships are the single most protective factor for our mental health.” Unfortunately, burnout negatively impacts relationships. This was true in the 2022 Medscape survey, in which 68% of physicians reported that burnout had a negative effect on their relationships.

In order to reduce burnout and depression, the AMA recommends several ways for healthcare organizations to help physicians, such as support groups and team-based care to rebalance workloads.

Does your workplace offer resources to reduce burnout and depression? 58% of physicians reported that either their workplace did not offer a program, or that they did not know if a program was offered. Knowing what resources are available is imperative before and after taking a job.

When asked how to best reduce burnout, physicians prioritized the following:

  1. More manageable work schedule
  2. Increased compensation
  3. Greater respect from administrators/employers, colleagues, or staff

This study also identified reasons why physicians had not sought help for burnout.

Reasons why physicians had not sought help for burnout

 

Physician Suicide

“Many physicians don’t seek mental health care due to fear of negative consequences in the workplace, including retribution, exclusion, loss of license, or even their job.”

– Gary Price, MD, President of The Physicians Foundation

Sadly, this was the case for Dr. Lorna Breen, who died of suicide in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Breen feared losing her medical license if she talked to a professional. Congress passed the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act to prevent physician suicide.

The US Department of Health & Human Services must award grants to facilitate mental health programs for providers as part of the legislation. In addition, they must also establish policy recommendations and conduct campaigns to:

  1. Improve providers’ mental and behavioral health
  2. Encourage providers to seek mental health support and assistance
  3. Remove barriers to such treatment
  4. Identify best practices to prevent suicide and promote resiliency

At SCC, we advocate, educate, and empower individual physicians. Proactive review of your cultural fit and salary can prevent burnout before it starts. We offer coaching services and compensation analysis to alleviate burnout. Knowledge is power. Know your value. Schedule a free consultation today.

 

Resources for Physicians Having Suicidal Thoughts
  • Physician Support Line
  • 888.409.0141
  • physiciansupportline.com
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
  • 800.272.8255
  • Text: 741741
  • suicidepreventionlifeline.org
Sources:
Medscape Physician Burnout & Depression Report 2022: Stress, Anxiety, and Anger
A Tragedy of the Profession: Medscape Physician Suicide Report 2022

Why So Many Women Physicians Are Quitting

Why does practicing medicine take a greater toll on women?

Compared to men, women physicians spend more time per patient, documenting electronic medical records, and handling non-professional responsibilities.

As a result, women physicians have higher rates of burnout and depression and lower rates of professional fulfillment.

These findings also shed light on other differences between female and male physicians in the following:

  • Alignment: the relationship and shared values physicians have with organizational leadership
  • Resilience: the ability to find meaning in work and the ability to re-charge when away from work
  • Intent to stay: the likelihood to remain with the organization three years from now
How can we level the playing field?

Organizations must focus on:

Flexibility to meet both professional and personal demands.

Respect strategies for encouraging inclusive workplace culture.

Equitable Advancement Opportunities and Pay reviewing current and new compensation plans to ensure gender pay equity.

Ask yourself, is your practice a good place for women physicians to work?

SCC is committed to ensuring pay equality for all surgeons. We are passionate about educating female physicians in the business of medicine.

 

Knowledge is power. Know your value.

Learn about fair market value salary and negotiate your worth.

Contact us for a free consultation today.

 

Source: Why So Many Women Physicians Are Quitting was written by Jessica Dudley, Sarah McLaughlin, and Thomas H. Lee, and published by the Harvard Business Review.

Tips for Choosing Between Multiple Job Offers

Choosing the right medical practice is difficult. Consider the following when choosing between multiple offers:

1) Define What Really Matters to You

Why are you looking for a new job? What are you looking for in a new position? Consider your wants and needs such as practice setting, practice size, your role within the organization, workplace culture, and location that fit your lifestyle. Understand what really matters to you.

2) Practice Location

3) Culture Fit

4) Practice Philosophy

5) Work/Life Balance

 6) Growth Opportunities

Physicians are in high demand and low supply, which gives you leverage. Find the job that meets your personal and professional aspirations.

Read the full Jackson Physician Search article here.

 

“Whichever direction you decide to go, choosing a role that is professionally rewarding and personally fulfilling will play a big role in your future level of satisfaction.” 

 

SCC is committed to helping surgeons find the right fit.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

 

ACS Resources for Burnout

Studies have shown that burnout effects mental health and well-being. The American College of Surgeons (ACS) provides resources for surgeons to identify burnout and create and maintain well-being throughout your career.

Surgeon Well-Being Resources

physician burnout surgeon burnout

 

Discover ACS Resources for Surgeons

 

Are you experiencing burnout at work?

We can help you. Contact us here to learn more. 

Physician Burnout, Interrupted

Physician burnout leads to unhappy physicians and poor patient outcomes. This resource will help educate and guide you in identifying methods of preventing physician burnout.

“Burnout is toxic for patients as well as physicians, because it’s associated with loss of empathy, impaired job performance, and increases in medical mistakes”

How to Address Physician Burnout

Autonomy

Competence

Relatedness

Give doctors flexibility in their schedule to allow for individual styles of practice and patient interaction Eliminate meaningless metrics and maintain a core of evidence-based measures to allow for clinical judgment

 

Align the systems values with the physicians values who chose their careers out of altruism

Read the full New England Journal of Medicine article here.