“Morale for all physicians is challenged these days, and otolaryngologists are no exception,” said Dr. Wei. “It’s near impossible to keep up with constant changes in coding and billing requirements and, in fact, there are a few [otolaryngology] procedures that do not even have updated surgical billing codes. The increasing administrative burden and compliance related to electronic medical records continues to challenge our work flow, efficiency, energy, time and availability to actually provide care.”
And providing such care is what attracted most physicians to the field in the first place. “There is no doubt that physicians feel overburdened by the regulatory environment that dictates medical practice,” said Dr. Teknos. “All of these factors take physicians away from what they really love—caring for patients—and it forces them to deal with bureaucracy, which definitely erodes morale.”
Being in control of one’s own time is a key factor in determining burnout levels, said Michael M. Johns, III, MD, associate professor of otolaryngology at Atlanta’s Emory University, director of the Emory Voice Center, and Dr. Ossoff’s co-author on the burnout studies on otolaryngology residents, academic chairs and faculty. In their research, they found that, for residents, the number of hours worked mattered in terms of higher burnout rates, while it didn’t matter for academic chairs, even though the number of hours worked was similar. “Chairs can decide if they want to work extra hours or not, while residents have to do the work they’re assigned,” Dr. Johns said.