4 Reasons Why Clinician Burnout is a Systemic Problem – Not an Individual One

Over fifty-four percent of physicians report that they are experiencing burnout, largely caused by the unrelenting stress of their jobs.

Clinician burnout is a serious problem for doctors, residents and nurses nationwide and is a direct result of problems with the U.S. medical system. Experts define clinician burnout as “a loss of enthusiasm for work, feelings of cynicism and a low sense of personal accomplishment.”

Various studies have shown that up to 54.4 percent of physicians report that they have or are experiencing this burnout, which is largely caused by the unrelenting stress of their jobs. While some instances may be due to personal issues, most are associated with flaws in the healthcare system.

Data Entry

Electronic health records were meant to eliminate problems with paper records and create a detailed history of patient treatment. What was originally designed to streamline the process has become a nightmare for healthcare professionals.

These records have become a way for the government to collect data concerning HIPAA and other regulatory agencies. As a result, doctors often spend two hours entering data for every one hour they spend interacting with their patients. Surveyed physicians have attested to the burden of EHR systems with 32 percent reporting it to be the top contributor of their burnout.

This problem also affects nurses who often spend much of their time with a patient entering information. This emphasis on data collection is not improving patient care as much as it improves billing processes.

Regulation Overload

Although physicians are still trained to focus on the patient, once they leave medical school, they are faced with an entirely different environment – one where they must follow the rules of insurance companies, the government and their hospitals.

For instance, some healthcare institutions limit the amount of time a physician or other caretaker can spend with each patient. Insurance companies often limit a doctor’s treatment choices for their patients. In a 2019 Medscape study, 59 percent of physicians reported that bureaucratic tasks were one of the top contributors of burnout.

In addition, government rules and regulations continually change. All of this regulation can leave clinicians unable to give patients the best care possible. As a result, they may feel powerless and stop trying.

Workload

Everyone has seen medical shows where the interns and residents are seriously overworked. Those scenarios are not fictional because residents can work up to 80 hours a week with single shifts that can last up to 28 hours. Plus, surviving residency doesn’t mean that doctors get to take it easy. Most work around 50 hours a week, or ten more hours than the average workweek for other U.S. workers. Nurses also work long hours and frequently take 12-hour shifts.

These long hours are also stressful ones, with clinicians often making life and death decisions or delivering high-pressure emergency treatments. In many areas of medicine, there is no such thing as an easy day. Constant pressure and chronic fatigue are certainly factors in clinician burnout. These symptoms can easily lead to depression and apathy if not addressed.

A doctor’s hours can also negatively impact their lives outside of medicine, particularly their personal relationships. They may not be able to spend much time with friends and loved ones, which makes it hard to maintain these relationships. As a result, they don’t get the benefits from these relationships that they need to live healthy lives.

Financial Issues

In 2018, the average salary for physicians was $299,000. The median salary for RNs is $68,450. Clearly, nurses do not enjoy the same level of financial security that doctors do. Of course, the average physician graduates medical school with around $190,000 worth of student loan debt, and it takes years to reach the average physician’s salary. Even then, only specialists obtain the upper levels of physician income, leaving general practitioners in the top tier of most likely to become burned out.

In the early years, many clinicians face serious financial strain. Nurses graduate with approximately $30,000 in student loan debt, which also places them at risk for financial pressure. Paired with the long hours, money issues can quickly lead to burnout.

Clinician Health Initiatives

Fortunately, there are healthcare organizations taking steps to battle clinician burnout and make the system better for everyone involved.

The Well-Being Index

Healthcare organizations such as Mayo Clinic have begun assessing clinician well-being through online screening tools used to determine who is at danger for burnout or who is already suffering from the symptoms.

ACGME Initiatives

The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) has instituted a number of initiatives to help prevent and treat burnout. For instance, the Back to Bedside program emphasizes patient care in a positive learning environment.

Educational Efforts

The American Medical Association has developed educational modules that allow hospitals and clinics to improve their internal practices and minimize professional burnout. The American Academy of Family Physicians has done the same.

Nurse-focused Programs

Organizations recognize the burnout problem for nurses as well and offer similar initiatives for their field. They may choose to use interventions such as retreats, on-site counseling, employee assistance programs or educational modules.

Some physicians and nurses may choose to take a sabbatical and focus on research or some other activity for a year. Others may devote time to community clinics or organizations such as Doctors Without Borders in order to practice medicine as they had first intended to do.

Identifying Burnout in the Medical Community

Identifying and addressing clinician burnout is essential for the health of medical practitioners and their patients. The medical community is working on a number of interventions currently to relieve stress and allow these healthcare professionals to practice medicine in a more fulfilling way.

Furthermore, experts are working to prevent burnout from happening in the first place. The public looks to doctors and nurses to do nearly impossible tasks. The regulators of the medical community should strive to be realistic and sensitive to the challenges these caregivers face.

Related Posts

Privacy Preferences
Web privacy policy
We take your privacy seriously, and we want you to know how we collect, use, share and protect your information.

What information we collect
We respect the right to privacy of all visitors to the Champions of Wellness site. We do not collect information that would personally identify you unless you choose to provide it. The personal information that you submit, such as on the request a quote page, is shared only with those people within the Champions of Wellness organization who need this information to respond to your request and we will utilize the information to improve Champions of Wellness operations. Information submitted through Champions of Wellness's online forms may be collected to ensure technical functionality. It will also be utilized to report any inappropriate use of our website. We do not save personal information to use for other purposes, nor do we provide it to any other groups.

Email communications, newsletter and related services
Champions of Wellness provides you with the opportunity to receive communications from us or third parties. You can sign up for a free email newsletter as well as unsubscribe from this at any time.
Email communications that you send to us via the contact and email links on our site may be shared with any member of our team and will be directed to the person most able to address your message. We make every effort to respond in a timely fashion once communications are received. Once we have responded to your communication, it is discarded or archived, depending on the nature of the message.

The email functionality on our site does not provide a completely secure and confidential means of communication. It's possible that your email communication may be accessed or viewed by another Internet user while in transit to us. If you wish to keep your communication private, do not use our email and call 888-426-7793.

You may decide at some point that you no longer wish to receive communications from our site. To stop receiving communications, send an email message to us.

Surveys
We, from time to time, survey visitors to our site. The information is used in an aggregated, de-identified form to help us understand the needs of our visitors so that we can improve our visitor experience. The information may be shared with third parties with whom we have a business relationship. We generally do not ask for information in the surveys that would personally identify you. If we do request contact information for follow-up, you may decline to provide it. If survey respondents provide personal information, it is shared only with those people who need to see it to respond to the question or request, or with third parties who perform data management services for our site. Those third parties have agreed to keep all data from surveys confidential.

IP addresses
The Web server will automatically collect the Internet Protocol (IP) address of the computers that access the Champions of Wellness site. An IP address is a number that is assigned to your computer when you access the Internet. It is not truly personally identifiable information because many different individuals can access the Internet via the same computer. We use this information in aggregate form to understand how our site or advertisements from Champions of Wellness are being used and how we can better serve visitors.

Cookies and other tracking technology
We collect information about visitors to our site using "cookies" and similar technology such as event tracking, pixel tags, visitor usage recordings and so on. We use this technology to recognize a repeat visitor and offer the visitor a set of content targeted based on a previous visit. We use session cookies to track a visitor's path through our site during a visit, to help us understand how people use our site and interact with us in order for us to continually improve our visitor experience.

How we use the information we collect:

We use the information we collect for things like:
-Fulfilling requests for services or information
-Marketing and advertising products and services
-Conducting research and analysis
-Communicating things like special events and surveys
-Establishing and managing your account with us
-Identifying you on our websites and tailoring advertisements and offers to you (both on our websites and on other websites) based on your interactions with us in person and online
-Operating, evaluating and improving our business and website

Data retention
We will retain your information for as long as your account is active or as needed to provide you services, comply with our legal obligations, resolve disputes, and enforce our agreements.

Except for authorized law enforcement investigations or other valid legal processes, we will not share any personally identifiable information we receive from you with any parties outside of Champions of Wellness.

We may share some information to third parties
We may share your personally identifiable information with third parties who we have engaged to help us provide you services. In each case, we will ensure that these third parties have agreed not to use or disclose your personal information except to help us provide the services.

Except as noted above for newsletters and surveys, Champions of Wellness does not provide any third party access to your IP address and email address.

We may provide third parties with aggregate statistics about our visitors, traffic and related site information. This data reflects site-usage patterns gathered during visits to our website each month, but they do not contain behavioral or identifying information about any individual member unless that member has given us permission to share that information.

To help us determine the effectiveness of our advertising, we work with Web analytics tools hosted by third parties who receive non-identifiable information from your browser, including but not limited to the site or the advertisement you came from, your IP address, your general geographic location, your browser and platform information, and the pages you view within our site.

Ads by Google
Note that Google, as a third party vendor, uses cookies to serve ads on our site. Google's use of the DART cookie enables it to serve ads to our site users based on their visit to our site and other sites on the Internet. No personally identifiable information is collected as part of Google's process. Users may opt out of the use of this DART cookie by visiting Google's privacy document.
If you would like more information about these practices and to know your choices about not having this information used by these companies, visit the Network Advertising Initiative. Some ad servers allow you to opt out of anonymous data collection through the use of cookies. To do so, you must opt out of such data collection with each individual site. You can opt out of cookies for several ad servers by visiting the Network Advertising Initiative gateway opt-out site. At that site you can also review the privacy policies of those ad servers.

Protecting your privacy
Whether you are visiting theChampions of Wellness site or working with one of our team members, we use reasonable security measures to protect the confidentiality of personal information under our control and appropriately limit access to it. Champions of Wellness cannot ensure or warrant the security of any information you transmit to us, and you do so at your own risk. We have taken reasonable steps to ensure the integrity and confidentiality of the personal information that you may provide. You should understand, however, that electronic transmissions via the Internet are not necessarily secure from interception, and so we cannot 100% guarantee the security or confidentiality of such transmissions.

If you reached this site via an ad from Champions of Wellness
If you come to a Champions of Wellness website via a Champions of Wellness advertisement, the ad may have been served to you based on your interests or selected for you based on your browsing activities.

Protecting children's privacy
We are committed to protecting children's privacy on the Internet, and we do not knowingly collect any personal information from children.

Links to other websites
Our websites link to client websites, many of which have their own privacy policies. Be sure to review the privacy policy on the site you're visiting.

Privacy policy updates
We may need to update our privacy policy as technology changes and Champions of Wellness evolves. If we make significant changes to this privacy policy, we'll update it here.

This policy was last updated in November 2020.