Burned out?

It always pays to be skeptical of anything you read with a publication date of April 1. Most newspapers, and even a few scholarly journals, try to slip an April Fool’s article past their readers. Thus, I was leery of a Medscape Medical News article, datelined April 1, 2013, entitled “Psychiatrist Burnout Less Than Most Other Physicians’.” My skepticism, however, was misplaced – the article is legit.

A few weeks ago, I blogged about a Medscape study focused on how psychiatrists’ answers to certain ethical questions were materially different from other physicians’.  This study mines the same vein, pointing out that psychiatrists are doing better in dealing with the stress of the practice of medicine than many of their colleagues. 

While 40% of physicians in the study identify themselves as experiencing “at least 1 of the 3 symptoms used to define burnout for the survey,” only 33% of psychiatrists say they are burned out. Psychiatrists share their ranking with an unusual mix of specialists – rheumatologists, pediatricians, and ophthalmologists. (Anybody see any commonalities in those specialties?)

APA President-elect Jeffrey Lieberman, MD, is quoted in the article about his thoughts on why psychiatrists are feeling relatively good in this regard; he notes in part that “psychiatrists typically have more control over units of time,” as opposed to the pressure faced by family practitioners and internists, who reported higher burn-out rates.

The article is well worth reading.  As with all Medscape articles, registration is required, but free. Here’s the link.