Who is More Stressed and Burnt Out? Male or Female Physicians? Surprising Answers.

Who is More Stressed and Burnt Out? Male or Female Physicians? Surprising Answers.

As of 2015, 46% of physicians and 44% of pediatricians in the U.S. claim they are burnt out. Let’s look at some statistics for pediatricians – because we are sure they apply to many other physicians, as well.

In a recent article published in the American Academy of Pediatrics’ online journal, on the positive side, younger pediatricians reported an overall career satisfaction of 83% and an overall life satisfaction of 71%. Factors that helped career satisfaction were: good health, working in the same position for at least 4 years, support from colleagues, and adequate resources to properly treat patients.

On the negative side, 57% of all younger pediatricians reported an unsatisfactory work-life balance. Of course, younger physicians are more likely to have new families, new obligations, and new experiences demanding their time. Thus, work-life balance may be more difficult.

Those physicians working less than fifty hours a week positively correlated with increased life happiness and decreased physician burnout. Life satisfaction correlated inversely with the overall incidence of burnout, reported at 30%. The higher life satisfaction score, the less likely one was to report occupational burnout. This is not surprising in that oftentimes one’s self-identity, self-worth – especially for male physicians – is tied in with their occupation and therefore “life happiness”.

Other factors negatively affecting overall life satisfaction were: recent life events, not getting enough sleep, and feelings of anxiety and depression. Also, physicians who reported a “chaotic or hectic” work schedule or environment had a 5 times greater chance of claiming burnout or having lower life satisfaction scores.

Factors that did not correlate with increased burnout, work-life balance difficulties, or career satisfaction were: race or having children. Also, there was no statistical difference in these observed factors with regards to men vs. women. Both felt the occupational stresses equally.

The authors suggest that the increased complexity in practicing medicine, and the use of electronic health records (EHRs), are common contributors to burnout. Perhaps this is driven by the chaos and hectic work schedule or environment created by EHRs, particularly as they have elongated the work day, while reducing the number of patients that can be seen, for most doctors. This article is one of many suggesting the same hypothesis.

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