Healthcare Uncovered Episode 8: Doctor Burnout

Dr. Eric Bricker
Dr. Eric Bricker
May 24, 2023

Doctors are getting burned out and in RECORD numbers. Are you curious about which practices are most susceptible to stress and overwork? In this week’s episode, I’m breaking down what’s causing physician burnout and who it’s impacting the most.

Doctor burnout has been an issue even long before we all became more aware of it during the COVID-19 pandemic. So, what’s causing all these doctors to be burned out?

Here’s one novel take on it... maybe it’s caused by just too much damn work!

Physician burnout based on specialty

A survey of 13,000 doctors in various specialties in 2021, during the peak of COVID, were asked about burnout. Not surprisingly, emergency medicine was the highest with 60% of doctors feeling burned out. Critical care was the second highest at 56%.

On the opposite end, Dermatology had the lowest burnout rate at 33% and orthopedics was at 37%.

Why the difference?

Well, it may seem pretty obvious that back in 2021 when COVID was raging, ER and Critical Care doctors were on the frontlines of this unprecedented global health calamity... slammed with patients. Every doctor knows what’s it like to get slammed. It’s awful.

Now what may not be so obvious is why dermatology and orthopedics had such a low burnout rate during this period...

During COVID, patient volume to outpatient specialties like dermatology went down by over 50% and orthopedic surgeries went down by 23%.

Remember how there was so much reporting about people pushing off optional procedures during Covid?

There was simply less work for these specialists to do compared to their ER and critical care peers.

So, the conclusion is fairly obvious: too much work leads to greater incidences of burnout.

How do we combat doctor burnout?

Does decreasing the work for physicians by adding nurse practitioners, physician's assistants, nurses and medical technicians help?

You bet it does.

If healthcare administrators want to start addressing doctor burnout and improve mental health, they need to allocate more resources to alleviate the doctor workload.


Want to reduce churn and keep vacancies low? Start by making doctor mental health a guiding principle of your organization.

Want to have doctors that are making the best care decisions possible? Well, how about we make sure they aren’t burned out!

It’s not just the right thing to do – managing for physician's mental health is good business.

Healthcare shouldn’t be complicated. Check out Nomi Health’s Open Network of physicians to break through the red tape, collect the money you’ve earned, and get back to why you’re doing this in the first place... helping patients.

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