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Lack Of Control Of Work Hours Leads To Burnout And Physician Dissatisfaction

Armen Hareyan's picture

Working Hours and Stress

Results are published at a time when many studies report widespread career discontent among physicians.

A new national survey of physicians has found that a lack of control of their work hours and schedule often leads to burnout, while many other difficult issues that physicians face do not seem to diminish their career satisfaction.

Viewed against the backdrop of recent studies suggesting that dissatisfaction and burnout are on the rise among physicians, the results of this study by researchers at the University of Michigan Health System are particularly timely.

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"The strongest predictors of whether physicians will experience burnout and career dissatisfaction are how much control they have over their schedules and over the total number of hours worked in a week," says Kristie Keeton, M.D., MPH, a fellow in maternal-fetal medicine at the U-M Medical School Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

"The good news is that I think career satisfaction among physicians can be improved if we work toward ways that physicians can have more control over their schedules and their work hours," continues Keeton, lead author of the study, which appears in the current issue of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Researchers began the study with a questionnaire sent to randomly selected physicians around the country, including internists, pediatricians, general surgeons, family practitioners and obstetrician-gynecologists. Results were based on the 935 completed surveys.

In general, the analysis of the results revealed that female and male physicians are highly satisfied with their careers. Both women and men reported moderate levels of satisfaction with work-life balance, moderate levels of emotional resilience and high levels of personal accomplishment.

Somewhat surprisingly to the researchers, the physicians' work-life balance does not predict their satisfaction with their careers