Half of All U.S. Physicians Say They Are Burned Out

U.S. physicians love their patients and hate paperwork. Unfortunately, a newly released survey by The Physicians Foundation finds that the paperwork is winning. Fifty-four percent of physicians surveyed say their morale is somewhat or very negative, and 49 percent say they either often or always feel burned out. 

As a result, 48 percent plan to cut back on hours, retire, take a nonclinical job, switch to concierge medicine, or take other steps that will further limit patients' access to care. These patterns are likely to reduce the physician workforce by tens of thousands at the time that a growing, aging, and more widely-insured population is increasing overall demand for physicians.

Regulatory/paperwork burdens and loss of clinical autonomy are the primary sources of physician dissatisfaction. More than two-thirds (72 percent) say these third-party intrusions detract from the quality of care they can provide. 

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According to the research, 80 percent of physicians report being overextended or at capacity, with no time to see additional patients. This remains steady with the findings reported in the 2014 survey from the Physicians Foundation. Not surprisingly, 54 percent of physicians surveyed rate their morale as somewhat or very negative.

"Many physicians are dissatisfied with the current state of medical practice and are starting to opt out of traditional patient care roles," said Walker Ray, MD, president of the Physicians Foundation and chair of its Research Committee. "By retiring, taking non-clinical roles, or cutting back in various other ways, physicians are essentially voting with their feet and leaving the clinical workforce. This trend is to the detriment of patient access. It is imperative that all health care stakeholders recognize and begin to address these issues more proactively, to support physicians and enhance the medical practice environment."

Action, Oct. 14, 2016 

Last Updated On

October 18, 2016