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April 5, 2017
June 30, 2022

Currently, there's a shortage of physicians in the United States and that can be correlated to physician job satisfaction rates going down. Unfortunately, 36 percent of physicians today wouldn't choose to go into medicine if they could do it over again. Many of these doctors are burned out and in need of change. Research suggests they stay at their current facility because of colleagues or because of the high prestige associated with their institution.

Physician burnout is a serious problem for everyone. The current ennui among physicians has to do in part with inadequate remuneration for their education and long hours. When you consider the vast amount of patients physicians are trying to treat, it's no surprise nearly half of front-line doctors today have symptoms of burnout.

The majority of physicians work an average of 30-45 overtime hours each week. They spend an average of 30 to 45 hours seeing patients and 10 or more hours doing paperwork.

Whether the compensation is adequate or not depends on who you ask. According to a recent Medscape survey, before income tax, the average compensation for specialists was $284,000. The average compensation for primary care physicians was $195,000. The discrepancy can weigh on the minds of full-time physicians.

What Causes Physician Burnout

Many doctors choose to go into medicine because it's lucrative and they want to make a positive impact on people's lives, but doctors regularly work overtime in emotionally draining environments without proper compensation. Additionally, they experience a lack of control over their schedule, their income, and even patient outcomes. As the quality of their reality diminishes, their desire to positively impact patient's lives can, too.

Physician burnout is a logical response to a stressful work situation. Doctors have lots of responsibility, but little control over the outcome of situations they encounter every day.

Burnout Ramifications

For doctors, burnout can lead to job dissatisfaction, failed relationships, suicidal thoughts, and substance abuse. However, the consequences don't end with physicians. For patients, burnout can lead to poorer outcomes, slower recovery periods, and increased medical errors. Doctors with burnout are more likely to get hit with malpractice, adding even more stress to the job.


Healthcare organizations need to reconsider their policies and procedures and how these impact their physicians' quality of life. Doctors need to consider working fewer hours on a schedule allowing them to have more personal time. Many doctors today are becoming locum tenens to regain control over their lives and find a passion for their work again. The flexibility with locum tenens creates a work-life balance many doctors didn't think existed.

A Medscape survey reported that 70% of doctors were happier when they became self-employed. Locum Tenens work could be the answer.

Resources: Medscape Compensation 2015 SlideshowBioMed CentralModern Medicine