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Physicians burn out and what can be done

When we think about healthcare, we always think of patient care or public health. When we are not feeling well either physically or mentally, we will seek help from the doctors. We expect them to be there 24 X 7 and have solutions for the most if not all our health problems. They are Superman and Superwoman in the world. After all, they are the last resource we get when we are sick or facing dead.

Have you ever considered caring for those healthcare workers who care for us? Or we just assume those doctors are well trained and have all the knowledge of medicine so they should know how to care for themselves and they will. However, the studies of US physicians showed that more than half of the US doctors were experiencing burn out, and it was increased from 45.5% to 54.4% in the year of 2011 to 2014. The trend is increasing.

The impacts on Physicians burn out are not only lower job satisfaction of Physicians, hurting the healthcare workers but also affecting everyone else in the community with the following consequence:

  • Increase the numbers of the Medical Error

  • Lower patient adherence to treatment plan

  • Lower lever of empathy from physicians in patient care

  • Lower patient satisfaction with healthcare

  • Decreasing numbers of active physicians due to early retirements and discouragement of young graduate goes into the clinical care

Contributing factors for physician burnout

  1. Long working hours and shifts

  2. Making critical decision under pressure

  3. Dealing with emotion need that comes with illness

  4. Unpredictable situations and outcomes

  5. High expectations of medical treatment outcome from patients

  6. Rapidly increasing Medical knowledge base

  7. Maintenance of Certification requirements

  8. Reducing autonomy due to technologies use in Electronic Medical Record

  9. Meeting the new regulations and care outcome measure

What can be done to solve the problem of physician burnout?

Physician burnout is not an easy fix. On the surface, it is about the physicians, but the root cause is about the overall health of the society and the healthcare delivery system. We need to approach this issue in several dimensions:

Individual Physicians

  1. Burnout awareness. Stay true to your own feel and take actions when the signs of burn out out show up.

  2. Allocation time for self-care such as routine physical checkup, vacation and exercise and hobby

  3. Attend leadership and positive psychology training

  4. Accept the weakness in you and get help when you need

Health Organization and Regulation body

  1. Burnout awareness program. A systematic self-report and measure system can help physicians to identify issue when it first onsets and proactively implement self-interventions and get support from peers and administration

  2. Reduce physician workload by effectively allocate medical resource locally and remotely

  3. Develop support service for physician on job and off duty such as psychology consultation, exercise program, massage therapy, music and art appreciation program, mindfulness training, physician family support services at the convenience location and schedule for the physicians.

  4. Create a clinical care delivery system so that physicians focus on critical clinic decision and treatment. Relocate non-physician resource on emotion support to patients and their family.

  5. Reduce non-critical measures and metrics to minimum physician’s clerical time


  1. Be prepare before your visit to physician and provide valuable information during your visit

  2. Follow the treatment plan prescribe by your doctors and info your physicians whenever you there is a change.

  3. Provide positive and encourage feedback to your physicians

Technology vendors

  1. Continue innovate new treatments and disease prevention programs

  2. Create tool with simple interface and no interference to physician’s treatment routine

  3. Provide physician with precise not overwhelming information

  4. Develop tools to deliver the latest medical discovery and knowledge

  5. Develop tools to help patient on treatment plan adherent

  6. Create tools for collaboration amount physicians and their support team

Physician burnout is a critical issue in today healthcare system. It desired attention for everyone and need immediately invention in all levels.

We need to care for the physicians who care for us.




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