33% of orthopedic surgeons burned out in 2020: 10 findings


Burnout continues to be an issue for physicians, with 33 percent of orthopedic surgeons reporting symptoms of burnout last year, according to Medscape's 2021 Physician Burnout Report published Jan. 25. 

Medscape collected responses from 12,339 physicians in over 29 specialties between Aug. 30 through Nov. 5.

Ten findings:

1. Overall, 42 percent of physicians reported that they are burned out. Critical care (51 percent), rheumatology (50 percent), infectious diseases (49 percent) and urology (49 percent) were the top four specialties experiencing burnout. Thirty-three percent of orthopedic physicians reported being burned out.

2. Orthopedics is the specialty with the second-most physicians (18 percent) reporting thoughts of suicide. OB/GYN topped the list at 19 percent. Overall, 13 percent of physicians reported suicidal thoughts.

3. It is estimated that each year 300 physicians die by suicide, the 10th leading cause of death among the general population in 2018. One percent of physicians said they attempted suicide, according to the report.

4. Twenty percent of physicians said they were clinically depressed. Of the 20 percent, 69 percent considered it colloquial depression — feeling down or sad.

5. For 79 percent of physicians, symptoms of burnout began before the start of the pandemic.

6. The top three causes of burnout were too many bureaucratic tasks (58 percent); too many hours at work (37 percent); and a lack of respect from employers, colleagues or staff (37 percent).

7. Healthcare organizations (47 percent) and outpatient clinics (46 percent) were among the top work locations for burnout.

8. Forty-eight percent of physicians said exercise was their strategy to cope with burnout. Talking with family and friends (43 percent); isolation from others (43 percent); and sleep (39 percent) were the next biggest coping mechanisms reported by physicians.

9. Work-life balance is the workplace issue concerning physicians most, followed by compensation, combining parenthood with work and relationships with colleagues.

10. Twenty-eight percent of physicians decreased work hours to alleviate burnout. Twenty-one percent reported changing work settings and 20 percent made workflow or staff changes to ease their workload.

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