Study: MDs suffer higher rates of burnout than PhDs and JDs

New research shows that those with MD degrees are at higher risk of burnout than those with other professional or doctoral-level degrees, including PhDs and JDs. The AMA, Mayo Clinic, and Stanford University School of Medicine have jointly conducted studies since 2011 related to burnout among physicians and other professionals in the United States. Although physicians and other professionals in the studies have all spent numerous years in advanced training, burnout remains highest among physicians.

Some additional observations from the study include the following:

  • Physicians tended to work more hours per week

  • Physicians tended to be less satisfied with their work-life balance

  • Physicians tended to be more likely to exhibit symptoms of professional burnout

All of these facts remained true even after researchers controlled for age, sex, relationship status, and hours worked per week. Additionally, because researchers adjusted data for hours worked per week, it cannot be said that physicians experience higher rates of burnout simply because they work more.

AMA Vice President of Professional Satisfaction Christine Sinsky, MD, a general internist and co-author of a letter describing the research, notes, “It is my observation that it is the administrative burdens, rather than the management of complex or sick patients that is driving that burnout.” 

Source: American Medical Association

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Physician Employment, Quality