Burn-out in our medical field is reaching a staggering level. Just think about a health-care system where doctors and nurses are so exhausted they seem zombie-like. This is our new reality. This exhaustion can cause them to be error-prone, apathetic towards patients, and can lead to decreases in their health.
A 312-page report released by the National Academy of Medicine states that this is due in part to how the American medical system functions. The report found around half of the country’s doctors and nurses experience substantial symptoms of burn-out, which can result in increased risks to patients, worker absenteeism and turnover, and potential malpractice claims. These issues can cost the medical industry billions of dollars each year.
“It’s a moral issue, a patient-care issue, and a financial issue,” says Christine K. Cassel, a professor of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco, who also co-chaired the committee of experts that wrote the report.
It can be alarming and tragic that the system is hurting the people who have been put in charge of healing. In the past few years, as the medical community has grown increasingly alarmed over physician burn-out, the proposed solutions have focused primarily on the resilience of the individual physician. “What this report is saying is that this is a systemic problem that requires systemic solutions,” said Cassel. “You can’t just teach doctors meditation, yoga, and self-care. We need big, fundamental changes.”
The committee who researched for the report–which included a team of doctors, nurses, health executives and leaders in neurology, pharmacy, and bioethics– worked over 18 months to wade through the heaps of research on clinician burnout. They discovered that between 35 and 54% of doctors and nurses experience burn-out. The percentage among medical students and residents is as high as 60%.
What are some symptoms of burn-out?
The symptoms of these clinicians who are experiencing burn-out include exhaustion, cynicism, increasing detachment from their patients, and loss of enthusiasm and joy in their work. Burn-out has been linked to higher rates of depression, substance abuse, and suicide. The suicide rate among physicians is one of the highest among all professions and is twice that of the general population. Health-care workers are more prone to burn-out because of the workload, pressure, and chaos that they experience each day. As the country’s health-care system has become increasingly more dysfunctional, the majority of the kick-back falls on these physicians’ shoulders. As a result, they face long hours, bureaucratic hurdles, mounting paperwork, fear of malpractice lawsuits, and insufficient resources.
The cost of burn-out in the medical field
Burn-out also tends to be very expensive. One study cited by the report found it costs the medical system $4.6 billion a year. Some of this cost comes from doctors reducing the number of hours that they work, quitting their jobs, or leaving the medical field all-together. The effect of doctor burn-out has an estimated $7,600 cost to the medical industry. These numbers don’t include the costs related to malpractice lawsuits, increased medical errors and the doctors that end up covering for those who are burnt-out. The financial incentive behind helping to ease burn-out is imperative because helping to alleviate burn-out will require significant buy-in from insurance companies, federal regulators, medical schools, and the country’s health-care systems.
What can be done to fix the issue?
The report outlined a long list of changes that need to be made to help eliminate burn-out. These changes include:
- Health-care facilities and medical organizations should develop executive-level chief wellness officers. They can then monitor and protect clinicians’ well-being and develop IT programs to reduce repetitive and redundant paperwork.
- Nursing and medical schools should train students to deal with burn-out. Federal and state regulators should identify and eliminate overlapping regulations.
- State medical licensure agencies should find ways for doctors to seek help without having it used against them, such as in malpractice litigation.
- Federal officials should develop a coordinated research agenda to understand the problem and how to alleviate it.
These changes would help to decrease the risks involved with physician burn-out. Giving your doctors and nurses a chance to rest is the most crucial change that needs to happen.
How MedCare Staffing can help
Locum tenens is an excellent solution to this issue as temporary staff can help to alleviate some stress and exhaustion your full-time doctors’ experience. MedCare Staffing can help with that by giving you multiple options for staffing. Contact MedCare Staffing today to discuss any staffing needs with a recruitment specialist. You can also submit a request directly on our website!
Who are we? MedCare Staffing is a small, veteran-owned, family-oriented team. We start every day with gratitude because we LOVE what we do! We are a team on a mission to make a positive difference in the lives of our clients and providers.
What we do: We place Physicians & Advanced Practitioners in Locum Tenens, Contract Positions and Permanent Jobs