Friday, 14 Feb 2020

You are here

Can the Happiest Subspecialists Experience Burnout?

The Medscape’s Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2019 crowned rheumatologists as the happiest subspecialists. We topped the list with 65% of the respondents indicating that they were happy outside of work. I was not really surprised by reading that, and I would go as far as saying that our field is the best. 

So, can the happiest doctors suffer from burnout? Dr. Paula Marchetta eloquently brought up the topic at the opening ceremony of the ACR/ARP annual meeting 2019. “We struggle to win the limited dollars available to fund innovative research which will advance our knowledge of the pathways to cure our diseases. We must fight so that our patients can receive the necessary treatments which will spare them from pain, loss of function and disability. We are shackled to our electronic medical record and forced to be more engaged with our computer screen than with our patients,” she said.

An abstract ( #1794) by Dr. Jenna McGoldrick, et al caught my attention at the annual meeting. The purpose of the abstract was to evaluate the levels of burnout amongst rheumatology fellows in the United States.  The survey was conducted electronically from January to February of this year. A combination of open-ended questions, the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) and Patient Health Questionnaire 2 (PHQ2) were tools used in the survey to evaluate for depression and burnout.

18.5% of the 567 fellows who received the survey completed it. They found that 28.2% of PGY-4s and 10.6% of PGY-5/6s were found to have at least one symptom of burnout.  In fact, 12.8% of PGY-4 respondents met the criteria for depression. Factors identified to promote resilience and reduce burnout included exercise, family/friends, sleep, support at work, and hobbies. Factors that contributed to burnout included the pager, documentation, presentations/expectations, long hours, and demands of patient care.

Another abstract ( #1120) by Dr. Vivekanand Tiwari, et al reported a high prevalence of physician burnout in our field. Of the 128 respondents, 51% of them demonstrated burnout in at least one domain which is very close to the overall reported rate of 54.4% burnout among US physicians.

This brings me back to Dr. Marchetta’s speech in which she recognizes “the disappearance of the doctor’s lounge” as the underpinning of “professional loneliness, isolation, and disillusionment.” I agree with Dr. Marchetta that regaining a sense of a community in our professional lives, to recapture a feeling of belonging has never been greater than now.

Dr. Marchetta describes that the American College of Rheumatology’s inclusivity, and bringing together of the diverse aspects of our profession, into one, sets it apart. She acknowledges that the ACR builds for us a level of support, collegiality in a way that lifts us all and helps to restore us.

Personally, for me, coming to the American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting is always invigorating. Even though I’m always running around to maximize my experience and to absorb as much as possible, this excitement certainly helps me to regain my sense of purpose and motivation towards our field. I look forward to being under one roof with my rheumatology family which includes both reunions and first time meetings with colleagues, mentees, friends, role models, and mentors. As I write this article on my way home from the annual meeting, I am rekindled with a new spark and inspiration thanks to each and every one of you for contributing to making our field the best in the world. 

Add new comment

More Like This

Book Review: “Great Health Care Value: Chronic Diseases, Practice Teams and Population Management”

The US healthcare market has evolved into an incredibly expensive system that often does not deliver good medical outcomes. While most of us know these problems exist, we rarely have up-to-date data or can offer alternatives to the way we manage care, especially to the chronically ill who consume much of our health care dollars. In their book, authors Tim Harrington, MD and Andrew Johnson, MS, MBA offer insights, evidence and experience on how we may do our part to improve the management of chronic rheumatic/orthopedic issues.

Rise in Fatty Liver Disease Linked to Obesity and Diabetes

Gut has published population results from NHANES population study showing that the prevalence of fatty liver disease is rising in the US and is driven by obesity and diabetes.

Employed Physicians Outnumber Self-Employed

For the first time in the United States, employed physicians outnumber self-employed physicians, according to a newly updated study on physician practice arrangements by the American Medical Association (AMA). This milestone marks the continuation of a long-term trend that has slowly shifted the distribution of physicians away from ownership of private practices.

 

Dr. Harold E. Paulus (1929-2019)

Dr. Harold “Hal” Paulus lives in the annals of Rheumatology as a major contributor, mentor, researcher and clinical trialist. He passed away last week, one day after his 89th birthday. I met Dr. Paulus as a fellow in 1985, when he easily included me in his discussions and research on rheumatoid arthritis. I admired his easy demeanor, wry humor and every man character. Most remark on his calm recessive and kind personality that was complemented by a body of work that was large, impactful and usually at the cutting edge. Many of Dr. Paulus’ colleagues and friends have contributed their testimonies and fond memories of this great man.

RheumNowLive On Demand: The History of Steroids - Dr. Eric Matteson

A clip from RheumNow Live On Demand. You can access the full library of content from the meeting.