Study: Burned out physicians less likely to view medicine as their 'calling'

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Physicians who experience more burnout are less likely to find their work meaningful or view medicine as a calling, according to a new study in Mayo Clinic Preceedings.

Researchers polled 2,263 physicians from across all specialties between Oct. 24, 2014, and May 29, 2015. The survey asked physicians to rate their level of burnout on a scale of 1 to 5, with scores of 1 and 2 indicating little to no symptoms of burnout. Physicians also answered six true or false questions on whether they viewed medicine as their calling.

Here are four study findings.

1. More than 93 percent of physicians found their work rewarding, although only 44 percent said they would continue their work without pay if they didn't need the money.

2. Of the 2,263 respondents, 639 (28.5 percent) reported some degree of burnout.

3. Physicians reporting high burnout symptoms were less likely to: call their work rewarding, say it was one of the most important things in their lives or agree it was making the world a better place.

4. Among physicians with no burnout symptoms who enjoyed their work, 93 percent said they would choose their career again, compared to less than one-third of physicians displaying the most burnout symptoms who said the same.

"If physicians only view their occupation as a job, that has implications over time in terms of their commitment to their patients," senior author Audiey Kao, MD, PhD, vice president of ethics at the American Medical Association, told Reuters. "Having physicians who view their work as a sense of calling is not only important for physicians but as important if not more important for the patients they care for."

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