Given that the United States has an aging population, the demand for medical services is growing. To ensure a robust health care workforce and to meet the needs of the population, we must address the problem of physician burnout.
According to the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality, physician burnout refers to the “long-term stress reaction marked by emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a lack of sense of personal accomplishment.” Increased stress can adversely affect a physician’s personal life, as well as the ability to practice medicine.
Causes of physician burnout include, but are not limited to, growing clinical workload, complex laws and rules governing the practice of medicine, and overall administrative burden.
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the United States could have an estimated shortage of 37,800 to 124,000 physicians by 2034. Therefore, as a society, our priority should be to make sure that we do not lose valuable physicians from the existing workforce due to burnout.
Physicians are precious resources, given the growing need for medical care. The health care community must address the problem of physician burnout. Policies must help reduce stress, prevent burnout, ensure that physicians have proper work-life balance, and shape the clinical environment so that providers can focus on patient care.