How does this stack up against non-physicians? A random sampling of American adults outside the medical field revealed that while roughly 38 percent of doctors experience burnout, that figure drops to less than 28 percent among the general public. More physicians also report being unhappy with their work-life balance than non-physicians (roughly 40 percent vs. 23 percent).
Not all doctors, however, report an equal tendency toward professional unhappiness. The survey suggested that many of the medical community's first responders -- including ER docs, internists, neurologists and family physicians -- are most likely to suffer some form of burnout stress. In contrast, dermatologists, pediatricians and preventive medicine doctors were found to be among the least likely physicians to experience such issues.
Bedient said the findings, combined with changes in the health care environment, "should be of concern to anyone who is interested in having good access to a great physician. And I would say that it's important that we make sure that we help these doctors learn how to reach out to family members as well as to those in their work environment for the help they need."
An accompanying research letter in the journal shed some light on the workload of a U.S. general internist. In addition to examining and talking to patients, routine tasks include placing orders for lab tests, imaging tests and consultations, writing and signing prescriptions, online communications about patient care and dictation.
Combined, the 82 internists in that study completed nearly 90,000 office visits in 2010. Their average age was about 50 and they had been practicing for a little more than 13 years, on average.
Bedient said medical community support
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