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The Most Burned Out Specialties

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Typically, generalists experience the highest rate of burnout among physicians, but which specialty is affected most with more than half of physicians reporting they feel burned out?

Generalists typically experience the highest rate of burnout among physicians, according to a new survey by Medscape. Unsurprisingly, specialties with the highest percentage of burned-out members also reported that their burnout was more severe.

In Medscape’s 2013 physician lifestyle survey, the top factors for physician burnout suggested an excessive workload and loss of control due to laws and bureaucracy. The least important stressors involved relationships with colleagues and patients.

Medscape

More female physicians reported burnout (45%) than males (37%). According to Medscape, the higher rate of burnout among females may be attributed to the fact that women tend to enter the generalist professions, which have the highest percentage of burnout. Interestingly, burnout peaks in midlife (46 to 55 years old) while the youngest and oldest physicians reported the lowest rate of burnout.

Medscape

Physicians practicing preventive medicine reported having the highest satisfaction and the least severe burnout. Also, pediatricians, rheumatologists, psychiatrists and pathologists were among the least burned-out specialists.

According to Medscape there was a slight association between having more children and a lower risk for burnout. While 30% of burned-out physicians have three or more children, slightly more non-burned-out physicians (35%) have three or more children. Plus, burned-out physicians are more likely to have one or no children compared to non-burned-out physicians (35% compared to 27%, respectively.

A career in ophthalmology is looking good considering just 35% of physicians in the specialty reported being burned out, ranking near the bottom of the list and tying for the second least most burned out specialty. Plus ophthalmologists have the distinction of reported the least severity with a mean score of 3.4.

Go to the next page to see the most burned out specialties.

The severity number is between one and seven, with one meaning the burnout does not interfere with the physician’s life and seven meaning that it is so severe the physician is thinking of leaving medicine altogether.

Highest percentage of burnout

10. (tied) Orthopedics

Burnout percentage: 40%

Severity: 3.6 (fifth from the bottom)

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10. (tied) HIV/Infectious diseases

Burnout percentage: 40%

Severity: 3.7 (middle of the pack)

10. (tied) Nephrology

Burnout percentage: 40%

Severity: 3.8 (relatively low)

8. (tied) Urology

Burnout percentage: 41%

Severity: 3.9 (tied for third with six other specialties)

8. (tied) Neurology

Burnout percentage: 41%

Severity: 3.8

4. (tied) General surgery

Burnout percentage: 42%

Severity: 3.9

4. (tied) Anesthesiology

Burnout percentage: 42%

Severity: 3.8

4. (tied) Internal medicine

Burnout percentage: 42%

Severity: 3.9

4. (tied) Ob/Gyn and women’s health

Burnout percentage: 42%

Severity: 4.1 (ranked first for most severe)

3. Family medicine

Burnout percentage: 4.3%

Severity: 3.9

2. Critical care

Burnout percentage: 50%

Severity: 3.9

1. Emergency medicine

Burnout percentage: 51%

Severity: 3.8

Read the full report and the individual specialty reports here.


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