Survey spotlights burnout in medical residents

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In the survey, 81% of residents in their final year of training reported that they sometimes, often, or always experienced feelings of burnout during their training.

This article first appeared on our sister site Medical Economics.

Findings from a recently released survey offer new evidence that the burnout crisis in health care extends across the entire career spectrum for physicians, starting with medical residents.

The AMN findings mirror those of a recent survey of residents and medical students by The Physicians Foundation, in which 60% of residents reported often feeling burned out and 45% of medical students said they had a colleague or peer who has considered suicide.

The AMN findings mirror those of a recent survey of residents and medical students by The Physicians Foundation, in which 60% of residents reported often feeling burned out and 45% of medical students said they had a colleague or peer who has considered suicide.

In the survey of 241 residents in their final year of training, 81% reported that they sometimes, often, or always experienced feelings of burnout during their training, up from 58% in 2021. And 30% said that they wouldn’t choose medicine if they could repeat their careers, the highest number ever found since the survey began in 1991.

The survey was conducted by physician recruiting firm AMN Healthcare Physician Solutions. “It is concerning that many new physicians already feel burned out before they enter their first practice,” AMN President Leah Grant said in an accompanying news release. “Physician burnout at all career stages remains a public health challenge that must to be addressed.”

The AMN findings mirror those of a recent survey of residents and medical students by The Physicians Foundation, in which 60% of residents reported often feeling burned out and 45% of medical students said they had a colleague or peer who has considered suicide.

Grant said that while burnout among both physicians and residents was relatively common before the arrival of COVID-19, “the pandemic simply added accelerant to a pre-existing condition. Because residents mostly work in hospitals, they were at COVID-19 ground zero, and many haven’t recovered. In fact, their feelings of burnout have only gotten worse.”

The residents’ responses come in spite of robust demand for their services. Over half (56%) said they received 100 or more job solicitations from hospitals, medical groups and physician recruiters during their training, the highest number since the survey began. Moreover, 78% received 51 or more job solicitations, also the highest number recorded by the survey.

“Physicians coming out of training are being recruited like blue chip athletes,” Grant said. “There are simply not enough new physicians to go around.”

Other findings from the survey:

  • 81% of male residents expect to earn at least $251,000 in their first year of practice, but only 58% of female residents think they will earn that amount;
  • Only 2% percent of residents would prefer to practice in communities of 10,000 people or fewer and only 4% would prefer to practice in communities of 25,000 people or fewer;
  • By far the most preferred form of compensation structure was salary with a compensation bonus (62%). By contrast, 14% said they preferred a straight salary and 11% an income guarantee;
  • Just over half (52%) said they felt “very” or “somewhat” prepared to handle the business side of a medical career, but only 39% reported getting any formal instruction in employment-related issues such as compensation arrangements and interviewing techniques

“The days of new doctors hanging out a shingle in an independent solo practice are over,” Grant said. “Most new doctors prefer to be employed rather than deal with the financial uncertainty and time demands of private practice.”

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