“Physicians: Are Their Lives in Danger ?”

Even though our nation is facing projected physician shortages, a Mayo Clinic study shows an association between burnout and declining professional satisfaction with physicians reducing the number of hours they devote to clinical practice. The findings were published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Tait Shanafelt, M.D., Mayo Clinic physician and lead author of the study, said, “A dramatic increase in burnout has occurred among U.S. physicians over the last several years.” Investigators found that for every point increase in the seven–point scale measuring emotional exhaustion, there was a 40 percent greater likelihood a physician would cut back his or her work hours over the next 24 months. Dissatisfaction may be linked to increasing legal liability, decreasing levels of reimbursement and to the complications of The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Tragically, an even greater problem is the high rate of suicides amongst physicians. While no organization collects official data on physician suicides, Pamela Wible, a family medicine doctor in Eugene, Oregon, who writes about the phenomenon, says that at least 400 doctors kill themselves annually, as of 2015. That’s the size of an entire medical school class.

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