Commentary

Taking a look at neurologist burnout


 

References

There’s a lot in the news these days about doctor burnout. More specifically, neurologist burnout.

In a 2012 survey study, about 53% of neurologists reported burnout, which was third among all specialties surveyed, behind emergency medicine physicians and general internists. Neurologists also reported the fourth lowest job satisfaction with work-life balance, with about 41% satisfied that work leaves enough time for personal or family life. Neurology was the only one out of five specialties with the highest rates of burnout that was also among the five specialties with the lowest work-life balance.

Dr. Allan M. Block

Dr. Allan M. Block

Granted, the term “burnout” can mean a lot, but these days seems to refer to the fall of the American physician: Overworked, with rising costs, and falling reimbursements, sandwiched between patients who want to be cured immediately and those who want to sue us, and even on a good day facing a litany of terrible diseases.

Heck, I’d be burned out, too. Maybe I am.

Some say this is from the worries of solo practice, since we’re usually more pressed for time and money. I disagree, as I’ve seen it on both sides.

Recently, I saw my own internist. Six months ago she closed her own solo practice to join a large, hospital-owned group. She looked exhausted, worse than I’d ever seen her. She told me that she now gets a secure paycheck, but her stress level is worse. The hospital sets her schedule, tells her how much time she can spend with each patient, gives her quotas she has to meet, and has supplied an electronic health record (EHR) system that’s less than user friendly. (Personally, all of the ones I’ve tried are terrible.) When she goes home, she told me that now after dinner she still has to log on and do 2-3 more hours of charting just to catch up.

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