Suffer the Doctors

American doctors are sleep deprived, stressed out and worried about money, according to a new book.

The book, Healing Physician Burnout, was written by Quint Studer. In it, Studer said that many of the problems afflicting physicians stem from the many changes that have taken place in the profession in recent decades.

Doctors who once worked in small practices now find themselves working in ever-larger practices and systems. Paradoxically, these larger practices can leave doctors feeling more isolated, and less supported, than they would in smaller ones.

Their pay is often tied to clinical outcomes and patient experience outcomes. These can be good things for the quality of the system as a whole – promoting better outcomes, and lower costs — but such practices may also introduce a level of uncertainty into physician’s lives.

The pressure to reduce costs in the healthcare system is being felt by doctors: they must work harder, for less money, than was the case in the past.

The author finds that physicians in today’s system also need to learn new skill beyond great clinical expertise.

“These include the ability to navigate electronic medical records, to consult a patient’s economic “big picture” when ordering tests, to work in teams with other professionals who aren’t doctors, to name just a few,” according to the publisher.

It’s no wonder, then, that 80% of the doctors responding to the Physicians Foundation’s 2014 Survey of American Physicians said they were “overextended or at full capacity.”

All of this stress is leading to burnout among doctors — and a worrying shortage of physicians in the U.S.

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