Pandemic pushes U.S. physician burnout to all-time high of 63%

Three in five physicians reported at least one event of burnout during the height of the Omicron wave that hit the United States in the winter of 2021-2022, pushing physician burnout rates to an all-time high. record and demonstrating more than ever the need for a renewed national commitment to support the doctors and other healthcare professionals who have worked so tirelessly to save countless lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Between Dec. 9, 2021, and Jan. 24, 2022, nearly 2,500 U.S. physicians responded to a survey conducted by researchers from the AMA, Mayo Clinic, Stanford University School of Medicine, and University of Colorado School of Medicine. The researchers found that, overall, 62.8% of physicians had at least one manifestation of burnout in 2021, compared to 38.2% in 2020, 43.9% in 2017, 54.4% in 2014 and 45.5% in 2011. These trends were consistent in almost all countries. specialties.

Posted in Mayo Clinic Proceedingsthe study “Changes in Burnout and Satisfaction With Work-Life Integration in Physicians Over the First 2 Years of the COVID-19 Pandemic” also found that satisfaction with work-life integration increased from 46 .1% in 2020 to 30.2% in 2021 Meanwhile, average depression scores increased from 49.5% in 2020 to 52.5% in 2021. This modest increase in depression suggests that the increase in Burnout is primarily due to work-related distress.

Even though early issues of insufficient personal protective equipment, increased workload, risk of infection, and lack of COVID-19 vaccinations and treatments have improved, doctors are still grappling with new challenges. There are multiple waves of new variants such as Omicron, the chronicity of COVID-19-related workload, the mistreatment of healthcare professionals, staffing shortages, the politicization of vaccination and anti- scientists, all of which contributed to a significant increase in the overall rate. of physician burnout compared to previous triennial surveys conducted over the past decade-plus, the study says.

Professional fulfillment scores have also fallen, from 40% in 2020 to 22.4% last year. Consistent with these trends in professional growth, 57.5% of physicians indicated last year that they would choose to become a physician again, up from 72.2% in 2020.

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“As the worst days of the COVID-19 pandemic are hopefully behind us, there is an urgent need to deal with the doctors who have put their all into our country’s response to COVID-19, too often to the detriment their own well-being,” said AMA President Jack Resneck Jr., MD. “The sober findings from the new research demand urgent action, as outlined in the AMA’s recovery plan for American physicians, which focuses on supporting physicians, removing barriers and burdens that interfere with care to patients and the prioritization of the well-being of doctors as essential requirements to reach the national level. health goals.

The AMA’s ongoing work to alleviate physician burnout, as evidenced by the US Physician Recovery Plan, works to address dysfunctional health care by removing the barriers and burdens that interfere with patient care. The AMA Physician Wellness Program offers physicians and healthcare systems a choice of cutting-edge tools, information, and resources to help rekindle the joy of medicine.

Roadmap for change

While widely recognized, large-scale change is needed to address the physician burnout crisis, the study found. Fortunately, the roadmap to address it has already been developed with the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) Consensus Report Acting against clinician burnout: a systemic approach to professional well-beingwhich called for immediate action by the healthcare system to address physician burnout and improve well-being.

Earlier this year, the United States Surgeon General also issued an advisory on addressing healthcare worker burnout, calling for action by federal, state and local government, healthcare organizations , health insurers, technology companies, training programs and accreditation bodies, the study notes.

Additionally, President Biden signed the Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act, which provides federal funding for mental health education and awareness. It was created to protect the well-being of healthcare workers.

While this progress is encouraging, these initial actions focused primarily on personal resilience rather than addressing the systemic issues specified in the NAM Consensus Report, the study notes. Research has shown that burnout isn’t due to a resilience deficit, it’s a system problem.

Therefore “new legislation and action aligned with the NAM recommendations and coupled with more substantial funding will be needed to address the problem,” the study says, adding that “timely system-level interventions implemented by government, payers, regulatory agencies and health care organizations are warranted.

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Meanwhile, AMA STEPS Forward® offers a collection of over 70 award-winning online toolkits to help physicians and medical teams make transformative changes to their practices and covers everything from stress management and burnout prevention to improved practice workflow.

Also developed by the AMA, the Organizational Biopsy™ (PDF) offers a collection of measurement resources that assess levels of burnout within medical organizations to provide metrics that can guide solutions and interventions that mitigate rates. burnout at the system level and improve physician well-being.

Another opportunity to help is the International Conference on Physician Health, which is a biennial meeting held in October in Orlando that brings together the AMA, the British Medical Association and the Canadian Medical Association to support health and well- to be in the ranks of doctors and medical students. .

Organizations can also participate in the AMA’s Joy in Medicine™ Health System Recognition Program, which recognizes health systems with a demonstrated commitment to pursuing proven strategies that reduce burnout within care teams.

Additionally, Debunking Regulatory Myths, which is a series created by the AMA, provides resources for physicians and their care teams to reduce guesswork and administrative burdens and focus on streamlining clinical workflow processes, improving patient outcomes and increasing physician satisfaction.

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