New Study: Physician Stress and Burnout Reaching Crisis Levels, Causing Many to Leave Their Practices

Posted on April 23, 2015 by VITAL WorkLife

Stress and burnout

Work/Life Balance, Desire for Wellness Activities, and Healthcare Reform Lead List of Concerns.

MINNEAPOLIS (April 23, 2015) – A 2015 study conducted by VITAL WorkLife and Cejka Search, reveals physician stress and burnout is on rise since their benchmark study in 2011, published under former company name Physician Wellness Services. Forty-six percent of physicians say they are severely stressed today, compared to 38 percent in 2011. Overall, 89.2 percent of survey respondents desired some degree of job change, ranging from switching to a new job or practice to retiring early or leaving the practice of medicine entirely.

“The field of medicine is intense, stressful and demanding; some stress factors are out of the physicians’ and their organizations’ control,” said Mitchell Best, CEO of Vital WorkLife, the cosponsor of the survey. John Gramer, President, Cejka Search, survey cosponsor added, “While their burden increases, the survey shows only a small number of physician support systems implemented by health care organizations are successful in helping physicians combat stressors [18.5 percent]. This impacts recruitment and retention, as well as workplace satisfaction and patient care”

Physicians experience stress from their personal lives, work lives and external factors. Leading causes of stress are maintaining a healthy work/life balance, complying with the health care reform and keeping up with the demands of administrative tasks.

Increased stress has a negative effect on physicians’ work and personal lives. The top work-life effects include lower job satisfaction, a desire to work fewer hours, retire early and leave the medicine practice entirely. The top personal-life effects include general feelings of tiredness, irritability, moodiness, apathy or cynicism. An overload of stress can ultimately lead to physician burnout.

“The higher the prevalence of stress and burnout, the higher the risk for organizations and patients,” Best said, citing loss of revenue and reduced care/patient safety due to physicians’ lack of sleep, issues with communication and difficulty making decisions.

  • High cost of recruiting new physicians
  • Loss of downstream revenue when physicians leave
  • Loss of a trusted resource for patients’ medical needs
  • Reduced quality of care
  • Diminished patient safety, due to physicians’ lack of sleep, issues with communication and difficulty making decisions
  • Increased medical malpractice lawsuits

Physicians indicated their top three preferences for managing stress are more time off, more ancillary support and a better understanding from administration of the challenges they face.

Currently about half of health care organizations provide wellness initiatives to assist physicians with managing stress. Unfortunately, physicians reported it is difficult to find time to use them.

CLICK HERE to download a free copy of the complete study and more information on how health care organizations can help their physicians.

About VITAL WorkLife

Headquartered in Minneapolis, VITAL WorkLife, Inc.™ is a national behavioral health consulting organization providing support to people facing life's challenges, while also assisting organizations in improving workplace productivity. We have deep experience in healthcare, especially assisting physicians and providers in dealing with the challenges facing their profession. This approach of helping employees and their families, while also guiding organizations, builds healthy, sustainable behaviors. For over 30 years, we have offered industry leading Employee Assistance Programs, specialized support, training and consulting for a wide variety of industries. Visit

About Cejka Search

Cejka Search recruits top healthcare talent for organizations nationwide through our team of experienced professionals, award-winning recruitment technology and commitment to service excellence. For more than 30 years Cejka Search has specialized exclusively in healthcare recruitment, delivering the competitive edge that enables our clients to find and hire top physicians, advanced practice and allied professionals, and executive leaders who fit well in their organizations. Cejka Search is a member of the Cross Country Healthcare, Inc. (Nasdaq; CCRN) family of companies. Cross Country Healthcare has been listed in Forbes magazine among “America’s Most Trustworthy Companies” for five consecutive years. Visit

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