Burnout among the nation’s physicians has become so pervasive that a new paper published in January by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the Harvard Global Health Institute, the Massachusetts Medical Society and Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association has deemed the condition a public health crisis.
In a 2018 survey conducted by Merritt-Hawkins, 78 percent of physicians surveyed said they experience some symptoms of professional burnout. Burnout is a syndrome involving one or more of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and diminished sense of personal accomplishment. Physicians experiencing burnout are more likely than their peers to reduce their work hours or exit their profession.
The paper includes directives aimed toward curbing the prevalence of burnout among physicians and other care providers, including the appointment of an executive-level chief wellness officer at every major health care organization, proactive mental health treatment and support for caregivers experiencing burnout, and improvements to the efficiency of electronic health records.
“At some point, you can't go much higher, or you're going to hit 100,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of global strategy at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Faculty Director at the Harvard Global Health Institute and an author on the new study. “We’ve got to start addressing this."
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