What is Doctor Burnout? How Prevalent Is It?

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​A general practitioner’s job is stressful but fulfilling. However, when there are too many tasks, duties, and high-volume workloads, burnout can happen.

According to The Medical Journal of Australia, the percentage of Australian doctors with high levels of emotional exhaustion is around 32%, and this continuous stress is higher among female doctors than males, with a prevalence rate of 38% and 27%, respectively.

Moreover, according to a study published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, in New Zealand, the burnout prevalence of the medical workforce in public hospitals is around 50%.

Stages of Physician Burnout

Take note that stress does not only harm a GP but potentially patients as well. When the GP cannot provide quality health service due to burnout, the risk of major medical errors increases.

Furthermore, there are three stages or so-called symptoms of physician burnout and these include the following:

1. Physical and Emotional

The first symptoms of physician burnout are physical and emotional exhaustion, and these stresses may occur from high job expectations and workloads. Additionally, for GPs experiencing these, their relationships, interactions, and decision-making skills can also be affected.

When these two occur, a GP must resist burnout, restore positive balance, and reduce exposure to stressors.

2. Depersonalisation or Cynicism

The second symptom of physician burnout is depersonalisation. This occurs when a GP loses his or her ability to care, empathize, and connect with patients and colleagues. GPs experiencing this can feel a diminished sense of accomplishment.

3. Doubt

The third symptom of physician burnout is doubt. Also known as helplessness or existential crisis, this symptom occurs when GPs feel that the profession might not be for them or the quality of service they give to their patients is low.

Financial Problems Also Cause Doctor Burnout

Being able to manage finances can help GPs meet their lifestyle and retirement goals. When doctors fail to do this, this could also add to mental exhaustion.

Some of the causes of financial management mistakes include borrowing too much, paying the borrowed money aggressively, inability to manage investments well, overpayment, and using personal accounts for business payments.

If not because of these, it could also be because of complacency about cash flow or under-prioritising insurance.

According to The Medical Journal of Australia, complacency is the biggest enemy of doctors, and becoming lulled into the idea that doctors earn high can make them miss other opportunities to build wealth.

Thus, to better leverage earnings, it is highly advised for GPs to keep not just the patient’s health a priority but their financial health as well.

Psilocybin May Restore Depressed Brain Function

Based on the Australian Doctor News, the drug Psilocybin can boost brain connectivity and can reduce the symptoms of major depression.

Consistent with a study published in the Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics, this psychedelic-based medication can be an effective alternative therapy for mental health disorders.

Also known as magic mushroom, this compound is naturally occurring and causes hallucinogenic effects. This triggers changes in perceptions, moods, and thoughts.

As reported in the International Medicine Journal, in Australia, the prevalence rate of depression in residing doctors and practising doctors is 29% and 60%, respectively. Additionally, the risk factors for this depression are long hours, workplace culture, bullying, and lack of resources.

The question is, are GPs struggling with mental health issues capable of taking this psychotherapeutic medication?

Probably not. While much needed studies are conducted into possible therapies and treatments, did you know Beyond Blue provides information and support to help everyone in Australia achieve their best possible mental health, whatever their age and wherever they live? 

At Medical Recruitment, we admire your professionalism and understand your mental health concerns. We can help you find the best GP jobs that can suit your lifestyle, without having to overly worry about mental fatigue from too high a workload.

Since 1986, Medical Recruitment has been specialising in GP recruitment, thus, consultants from the company have expert knowledge in the space. If you’re looking for an exciting opportunity to work as a permanent or locum GP job or even for a GP role after hours, then look no further - get in touch with our Recruitment Consultants now.​​​