Burnout, depression, and suicide in physicians are serious issues, and otolaryngologists are not immune. However, information from the recently released “National Physician Burnout, Depression & Suicide Report 2019” from Medscape suggests that otolaryngologists may be doing considerably better than their peers in other specialties.
General numbers were disheartening, but not unexpected:
- Overall, 44% of physicians reported feeling burned out; 11% were colloquially depressed, and 4% were clinically depressed.
- Approximately half of physicians fall in the middle range between burnout not interfering with their lives and burnout being so severe that they are considering leaving medicine.
- Women were more likely to be burned out in their careers than men.
- The top contributors to burnout included too many bureaucratic tasks, too many hours at work, increasing computerization, lack of respect, and insufficient compensation.
- The percentage of physicians who are burned out rises in correlation with the number of hours physicians work each week.
In the results broken down by specialty, however, otolaryngologists fared better than many of their peers. The most burned out specialties were critical care (48%), neurology (48%), family medicine (47%), OB/GYN (46%), and internal medicine (46%). The least burned out were plastic surgery (23%), dermatology (32%), pathology (32%), ophthalmology (34%), and otolaryngology (36%).
In the list of physicians most likely to work long hours, general surgery was at the top (77%), followed by urology (76%) and cardiology (72%). Otolaryngology was farther down the list at 42%. Otolaryngologists were also more likely to seek professional help for burnout than three-quarters of their professional peers in other reported specialties, and were happier at work than two-thirds of those same professional peers.
More than 15,000 physicians in 29 specialties took part in the report, which was given as an online survey between July 27 and Oct. 16, 2018. Respondents were required to practice medicine in the U.S.