29 physician specialties ranked by mental distress

About a quarter of U.S. physicians report symptoms of depression, and nearly 1 in 10 have suicidal thoughts, according to Medscape's ''Physician Burnout Report" published March 3.

Medscape surveyed 9,175 physicians in more than 29 specialties from June 28 to Oct. 3, 2022. 

Nine percent of physicians reported suicidal thoughts, the same percentage as a year prior and down from 22 percent in 2020. One percent reported attempting suicide. 

"Admitting to having felt suicidal but not attempted suicide does speak to how stressed a certain cohort of today's doctors are," Michael Myers, MD, professor of clinical psychiatry at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University in New York City, told Medscape. "The fact that only a small percentage of these individuals went on to attempt suicide is a good sign that they perhaps shared this with a trusted colleague, friend or family member or sought professional help." 

This year, otolaryngologists were most likely to report suicidal thoughts at 13 percent, while pulmonologists were the least at 4 percent. Medscape said these figures vary greatly among specialties year to year. 

"The specialties with the highest reporting of physician suicidal thoughts are also those with the greatest physician shortages, based on the number of job openings posted by recruiting sites," Peter Yellowlees, MD, professor of psychiatry and chief wellness officer at Sacramento, Calif.-based UC Davis Health, told Medscape.

Otolaryngology — 13 percent have had suicidal thoughts 

Psychiatry — 12 percent

Family medicine — 12 percent

Anesthesiology — 12 percent

Obstetrics/gynecology — 12 percent

Emergency medicine — 12 percent

Physical medicine and rehabilitation — 11 percent

Internal medicine — 11 percent

Pediatrics — 11 percent

Plastic Surgery — 11 percent 

Public health and preventive medicine — 11 percent

Allergy and immunology — 10 percent

General surgery — 10 percent

Neurology — 10 percent

Urology — 9 percent

Cardiology — 9 percent

Pathology — 8 percent

Infectious disease — 8 percent

Gastroenterology — 8 percent

Diabetes and endocrinology — 8 percent

Ophthalmology — 8 percent

Critical care — 8 percent

Dermatology — 7 percent 

Radiology — 7 percent

Orthopedics — 7 percent

Nephrology — 7 percent

Oncology — 7 percent

Rheumatology — 5 percent

Pulmonary medicine — 4 percent 

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