How Physician Burnout Became a Catalyst for the Great Resignation

Posted on June 28, 2022 by Dr. Paul DeChant, MD, MBA, FAAFP

The impact of the pandemic on healthcare is significant. With many health systems currently losing between 10 and 20 percent of their workforce, and 47 percent of doctors and nurses saying they’re ready to quit by 2025, the Great Resignation is a threat to the long-term survival of many hospitals and health systems.

insight_greatresignationcatalystA problem with a past

This crisis is actually an exacerbation of stressors that long predated the pandemic. This includes drivers of burnout that were prevalent in the pre-pandemic workplace like work overload, a lack of control on the part of physicians, insufficient reward, breakdown of community, absence of fairness and conflicting values.

In short, physicians have been feeling overworked for a long time. They’ve felt misunderstood by leaders who may not understand all they do, and have resented being micro-managed in the increasingly corporate-style healthcare setting. They’ve been able to spend less time connecting with one another—and with patients—as the demands of electronic record-keeping have ramped up. As the physician workforce becomes more diverse, they’re experiencing the unfairness of being different from older colleagues because of their gender, their ethnicity, orientation, or country of origin. They have experienced values conflicts making treatment decisions that violate their beliefs due to the health system or insurers placing restrictions on options for patient care.

Dealing with It

The pandemic has worsened these challenges. With great disruption comes the potential for new approaches to address the drivers of burnout and improve clinical workplaces. 

For more on how to confront the Great Resignation with well being focused solutions, read my article How to Face the Great Resignation in Healthcare here.

Download How to Face the Great Resignation in Healthcare

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