Physicians continue to find fulfillment treating patients despite burnout

Despite the pervasiveness of burnout and the growing number of clinicians who say they would choose a career outside of medicine if they had a "do-over," physicians still feel rewarded by treating patients, according to the 2016 Medscape Physician Compensation Report.

Additionally, the report, which includes responses from nearly 19,200 physicians in more than 26 specialties, indicated earnings aren't the most rewarding aspect of their jobs; providing care for patients and being a good physician are more important.

"There is no denying that doctors today are facing burnout from immense pressures, with bureaucratic tasks and paperwork topping the list. Yet, the Compensation Report shows that they are fiercely committed to their professional calling," said Michael Smith, MD, medical director and chief medical editor of WebMD.  "Moreover, it's those doctors with lower salaries, like primary care physicians, that are most likely to choose medicine again. Despite the pressures, doctors remain passionate about patient care."

Here are four findings on physician fulfillment and burnout from the report.

1. Almost all — 98 percent — physician respondents found gratification in being a physician and treating patients, despite complaints over bureaucratic red tape, work requirements and changes in the healthcare field.

2. Approximately one-third of physicians said their relationships with patients (34 percent) and being good at their job (32 percent) are the most rewarding aspects of practicing medicine.

3. Doing research, educating students or training residents, having a flexible schedule and relationships with colleagues are also sources of fulfillment for physicians.

4. The specialists who are least likely to practice medicine again if they got a "do-over" are plastic surgeons (indicated by 47 percent), radiologists and orthopedists (both 49 percent). All three of these specialties were in the top 10 in terms of earnings.

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USC School of Medicine, Palmetto Health form 500-provider medical practice: 6 things to know

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