Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Almost half of doctors suffer from burnout

This is a sign that there is something very wrong with what people get from their jobs.

More than four in 10 U.S. physicians said they were emotionally exhausted or felt a high degree of cynicism, or "depersonalization," toward their patients, said researchers whose findings appeared in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

That has consequences for both doctors and their patients:

Previous studies have shown that burned-out doctors are more prone to thinking about suicide and to making medical errors than their peers, Shanafelt added.

So a highly paid, highly skilled profession which has a high level of social respect and status, and directly related to helping others, has a percentage of people so burned out so they get almost no pleasure from the job. Perhaps doctors have to get through patients so fast they lose the emotional satisfaction of talking to people, as well as having too much workload. The article suggests too much paperwork and loss of professional autonomy could also be factors.

It is not just doctors, though.

The researchers compared physicians with a random sample of 3,400 employed people who were not doctors. Based on a modified version of the original questionnaire, 38 percent of the doctors had burnout symptoms against 28 percent of the rest.

So almost a third of the population feels emotional burnout on their jobs. There must be high readings for lawyers, teachers and other professions too. Surely we can aim for better lives than that. It's certainly not part of the good life.


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