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For Stressed Docs, Where to Turn?

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, January 19, 2012

How bad is the problem? The survey shows that 87% of 2,000 physicians reported they were moderately to severely stressed, and 63% said the stress has increased "moderately to dramatically" over the past three years.

Yet only 15% of hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare organizations offered support in a way they thought would be helpful to deal more effectively with stress or burnout, the report says.

For physicians, the work-related stress factors are:

  • Administrative demands
  • Long work hours
  • On-call schedules
  • Concerns about medical malpractice lawsuits

All those factors are essentially built into today's job of being a physician, at least for the docs who stick with it.

"The result of this cumulative stress is declining job satisfaction, motivating physicians to change jobs or leave the practice of medicine altogether," the report states. If low morale leads to physicians doing their jobs improperly, then there is concern about patient safety issues, of course.

"I HATE being a doctor," wrote one unnamed and extremely disgruntled physician in response to the survey. "It has changed so much since I started. There is no reward for working your butt off, all future docs will be shift workers. Non-doctors and doctors who are traitors (administrative docs) have too much control over me and my patient's [sic] care. Doctors who provide care are left holding the bag of litigation responsibility but no control over quality of care…I can't wait to get OUT!!!"

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