Female Physicians May Be Especially at Risk of Burnout
TUESDAY, Oct. 17, 2017 -- Female physicians are more burned out than their male colleagues, but there are steps they can take to reduce the stress associated with burnout, according to a blog post published in Medical Economics.
Rebekah Bernard, M.D., a family physician at Gulf Coast Direct Primary Care in Fort Myers, Florida, notes that female physicians have twice the level of burnout as their male colleagues. In addition, the rates of depression and suicide among female physicians are 2.4 to four times higher than in the general population. Female doctors usually spend more time with patients during office visits, focusing on preventive care, education, and counseling as well as the psychosocial aspects of patient care. As a result, they tend to attract more female patients, who are more likely to have psychosocial issues in addition to physical ones. Also, male and female patients tend to talk more and demand more in office visit with female physicians versus male physicians.
However, female physicians can take steps to reduce the stress that leads to burnout. First, they can adjust their schedules to avoid running behind while ensuring adequate time with patients. They can also schedule frequent follow-up visits for emotionally challenging patients who can't be dealt with in one visit, and they should refer patients with many psychosocial issues to psychologists. They can minimize documentation by finishing notes after each visit and keeping notes short. Last, they can renegotiate salaries by requesting fair compensation and adequate support.
"When women physicians feel treated fairly, and are given the resources that we need, our burnout levels will decrease," Bernard writes. "And less burned-out doctors means better health care for everyone."
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Posted: October 2017