Physician Burnout and Stress Now Reaching Critical Levels

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Recent studies show that physician stress increased dramatically over the past twenty years and now substantially affects the cost and quality of patient care.

Physician stress increased dramatically over the past twenty years. In spite of achieving career and financial success, today's physicians are stressed and overworked, often losing sight of their career goals and personal ambitions. The resulting frustration, anger, restlessness, and exhaustion are known as physician burnout and adversely affect the quality and costs of patient care.

"There is a growing body of scientific evidence that leading a balanced, integrated life is integral to preventing physician burnout. Furthermore, evidence also indicates that physician satisfaction is a significant contributor to patient satisfaction," said Howard Silverman MD MS.

Survey results suggest that levels of professional dissatisfaction among physicians have doubled in only a few decades. In 1973, less than 15 percent of several thousand practicing physicians reported any doubts that they had made the correct career choice. In contrast, surveys administered within the past 10 years have shown that 30 to 40 percent of practicing physicians would not choose to enter the medical profession if they were deciding on a career again, and an even higher percentage would not encourage their children to pursue a medical career.

Other studies have found that a physician's self-reported satisfaction was strongly linked to patient satisfaction. Patients of physicians who rated themselves as being very or extremely satisfied with their work were found to be more satisfied with their care. Similar studies have found that patients of physicians who rated themselves as having high job satisfaction had greater levels of trust and confidence in their physicians.

In a recent study conducted by The Center for Health Futures in Orlando, Florida (Physician to Physician Satisfaction Study), the authors conclude that "variables related to physician satisfaction with their personal lives predicted levels of stress well beyond that accounted for by personal, demographic and work-related characteristics."

"I'm glad to see that there is increasing attention being given to this important issue by professional organizations such as the American Academy of Family Physicians who have invited me to speak on the subject at their upcoming 'Women's Health and Physician Wellness' conference in April," said Dr. Silverman.

About Howard Silverman MD MS
Dr. Howard Silverman is a Clinical Professor of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine and Clinical Professor of Biomedical Informatics at Arizona State University. He is one of the founders of Grapevine Discovery, Inc. a company that developed the Grapevine Process® to assist physicians in developing a plan for achieving their own definition of a balanced, satisfying and fulfilling life. The CME certified program draws on the founders' skills in retreat and community interaction, adding emerging online distance education delivery systems. The distance education model coupled with retreats provides a realistic offering for clinicians who too often have sparring needs - overscheduled clinic days, administrative projects, family needs, and community obligations. For more information visit


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