Nearly 90% of physicians feel stressed every day, report says

They're seeking a less hectic schedule, a better work-life balance and greater compensation. Fourteen percent have left their jobs because of stress.

By — Posted Dec. 20, 2011

Print  |   Email  |   Respond  |   Reprints  |   Like Facebook  |   Share Twitter  |   Tweet Linkedin

Most physicians routinely cope with high levels of stress that can lead to problems such as decreased productivity, conflicts in the workplace or at home, and feelings of irritability and anger, a report says.

Eighty-seven percent of 2,069 physicians surveyed said they feel moderately or severely stressed or burned out daily.

"These are really striking statistics," said Alan Rosenstein, MD, medical director of Minneapolis-based Physician Wellness Services, which consults health employers on wellness services. The company conducted the survey with Cejka Search, a St. Louis, Mo.-based physician, allied health and health care executive search firm.

Physicians participating in the survey had a median age of 45 and an average 13 years in practice. Respondents cited the top causes of stress as the struggling economy (51.6%), health system reform (46.4%) and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services policies (41.2%).

When asked about stressors in the workplace, 39.8% named paperwork and administrative demands, 33.3% cited long work hours and 26.2% cited on-call schedules and expectations.

High stress levels lead to tiredness, loss of sleep and general feelings of irritability and moodiness, according to the report. Fourteen percent of physicians said stress had caused them to leave a practice.

Physician turnover can be problematic for a medical practice, said Lori Schutte, president of Cejka Search. Patient care may be disrupted, and recruiting new physicians can be difficult and costly.

"It can cost up to $1 million to replace a physician, depending on what specialty they are in," she said.

Hospitals, health systems and other organizations that employ physicians need to be proactive by offering resources to help alleviate on-the-job stress, Dr. Rosenstein said. Physicians in the survey said they wanted better work hours, work-life balance and compensation.

"Right now we're facing a physician shortage and it's probably going to get a lot worse," Dr. Rosenstein said. "That's got to be a big red flag for organizations that are employing those physicians."

Back to top



Read story

Confronting bias against obese patients

Medical educators are starting to raise awareness about how weight-related stigma can impair patient-physician communication and the treatment of obesity. Read story

Read story


American Medical News is ceasing publication after 55 years of serving physicians by keeping them informed of their rapidly changing profession. Read story

Read story

Policing medical practice employees after work

Doctors can try to regulate staff actions outside the office, but they must watch what they try to stamp out and how they do it. Read story

Read story

Diabetes prevention: Set on a course for lifestyle change

The YMCA's evidence-based program is helping prediabetic patients eat right, get active and lose weight. Read story

Read story

Medicaid's muddled preventive care picture

The health system reform law promises no-cost coverage of a lengthy list of screenings and other prevention services, but some beneficiaries still might miss out. Read story

Read story

How to get tax breaks for your medical practice

Federal, state and local governments offer doctors incentives because practices are recognized as economic engines. But physicians must know how and where to find them. Read story

Read story

Advance pay ACOs: A down payment on Medicare's future

Accountable care organizations that pay doctors up-front bring practice improvements, but it's unclear yet if program actuaries will see a return on investment. Read story

Read story

Physician liability: Your team, your legal risk

When health care team members drop the ball, it's often doctors who end up in court. How can physicians improve such care and avoid risks? Read story

  • Stay informed
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • RSS
  • LinkedIn