A Burnout Epidemic: 25 Notes on Physician Burnout in the US

July 12, 2017

Here are 25 things to know about physician burnout.

 A brief history of burnout

1. Herbert Freudenberger, a German-American psychologist, was one of the first to describe and study symptoms of professional burnout among physicians and mental health workers in the 1970s. He coined the term "burnout" in his 1974 book, "Burnout: The High Cost of High Achievement."

2. In 2007, HHS described professional burnout as an occupational hazard in medicine that may cause high quality healthcare professionals to leave the field altogether.

3. The first national study of burnout across all U.S. physician specialties occurred in 2011 and was published in Archives of Internal Medicine. The study found 38 percent of physicians experienced burnout compared to 28 percent of workers employed in other industries.

A growing epidemic

4. Fifty-one percent of physicians reported experiencing frequent or constant feelings of burnout in 2017, up from 40 percent in 2013, according to Medscape's annual survey.

5. The specialty group reporting the greatest degree of burnout this year was emergency medicine (59 percent), followed by OB/GYN (56 percent), family medicine (55 percent), internal medicine (55 percent) and infectious disease (55 percent).

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