Physician burnout continues to climb after 6-year decline: Study

The burnout rate among U.S. physicians spiked from 38.2 percent in 2020 to 62.8 percent in 2021, an increase of 24.6 percentage points, according to a Sept. 13 analysis from Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Based on the association of physician burnout with quality of care, job turnover, and reductions in work effort, these findings have profound implications for the U.S. healthcare system, according to researchers from the American Medical Association; Palo Alto, Calif.-based Stanford Health Care; and Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic. 

2020 marked the end of a six-year period of decline in the overall rate of work-related burnout among physicians. In 2021, the physician burnout rate climbed to a new height that was greater than previously monitored by researchers. 

According to a Sept. 15 analysis of the findings, the American Medical Association President Jack Resneck Jr., MD, said there is an urgent need to attend to physicians.

"The sober findings from the new research demand urgent action as outlined in the AMA's Recovery Plan for America's Physicians, which focuses on supporting physicians, removing obstacles and burdens that interfere with patient care, and prioritizing physician well-being as essential requirements to achieving national health goals," said Dr. Resneck. 

Previous research shows the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated many of the drivers of physician burnout, resulting in 1 in 5 physicians intending to leave their current practice within two years.

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