Dermatologists have enjoyed being ranked last or near last among medical specialties when it comes to burnout. But a new study by Mayo Clinic and American Medical Association researchers suggests dermatologists, like their peers in other specialties, might be fast succumbing to the tell-tale symptoms of professional burnout: emotional exhaustion, loss of meaning in their work and feelings of ineffectiveness.1
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That’s not good for physicians, their families, the medical profession or patients, according to the study’s first author Tait Shanafelt, M.D., a hematologist at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.
Dr. Shanafelt and colleagues published an update from a three-year study evaluating burnout and work-life balance among U.S. physicians. They found more than half of U.S. physicians are professionally burned out — up 10% over the last three years. This is according to their comparison of data from 2014 to information collected in 2011. The survey results were based on 6,880 U.S. physicians, a 19% response rate, as well as a population-based sample of 5,313 working U.S. adults in other fields.
The study’s results were particularly notable in dermatology, according to Dr. Shanafelt.
“At the time of our 2011 study, dermatologists had one of the lowest rates of burnout and among highest rates of professional satisfaction of all specialties evaluated. Between 2011 and 2014, dermatologists had the largest increase in burnout of any specialties (increased from 32% to 57%),” he told Dermatology Times. “In 2014, dermatology ranked ninth highest of 24 specialties evaluated (as opposed to 23rd out of 24 in 2011). Dermatologists still scored favorably with respect to satisfaction with work-life balance; however, they moved from the second most favorable score out of 24 specialties to the seventh most favorable score.”
If you’re wondering if you’re at risk for burnout or might be in the throes of it, Dr. Shanafelt says there are burnout drivers that are common in the practice of medicine.
“Simplistically, we categorize the drivers of burnout into five dimensions:
· excessive workload,
· inefficiency (including clerical burden),
· loss of autonomy/control over work,
· problems with work-life integration, and
· a loss of meaning in work,” Dr. Shanafelt says.
There’s fallout to burnout. According to the researchers, studies suggest that physician burnout leads to poor care, physician turnover and a decline in the overall healthcare system’s quality of care.