Every day of the year, physicians in the US work tirelessly to care for patients, and one day a year. The country recognizes the work of its doctors with National Doctors’ Day every March 30th.
The day has a long history, dating back to 1933, and was officially turned into a national holiday in 1990. And physicians need our acknowledgement perhaps more now than ever. Research has shown that physicians are facing an epidemic of burnout.
Physicians suffer burnout more than any other American worker, according to a 2012 report by the Annals of Internal Medicine. And in 2015, Medscape found that nearly half (46%) of all physicians had burnout, which was up significantly from 2013 when less than 40% responded similarly.
Physician burnout can have far reaching effects. According to a commentary published in the September/October 2015 issue of Family Practice Management, burnout is directly linked to some undesirable consequences:
- Lower patient satisfaction and care quality
- Higher medical error rates and malpractice risk
- Higher physician and staff turnover
- Physician alcohol and drug abuse and addiction
- Physician suicide
“For all of us who take care of patients in the course of our workday, we have been trained and conditioned by our educational process to continue to work despite the fact that our batteries are completely empty,” Dike Drummond, MD, explained.
Burnout rates vary by specialty, but those on the front line of care—primary care physicians and emergency physicians—have the highest reported burnout rates.
As for physician suicide, nearly 400 physicians take their lives each year. Not only is this likely an underestimate, but that makes it the highest suicide rate of any profession, The Advisory Board Company reported in 2014.
So this March 30, take the time to thank your doctor, and acknowledge him or her for all the hard work and countless hours they put in to keep their patients healthy and treat them when they fall sick.