Burnout plagues younger primary care docs
Half of U.S. primary care physicians under the age of 55 say they're burned out and some anticipate leaving the profession in the next three years, per a new survey from the Commonwealth Fund.
Why it matters: It's the latest evidence of doctor shortages that could hamper efforts to reduce health disparities and fill gaps in care as the nation emerges from the pandemic.
What they found: Nearly two-thirds of young clinicians reported higher rates of emotional distress, but few of them are seeking out help or support.
- Just 16% of clinicians under the age of 55 reported seeking help, while 6% of primary care physicians over the age of 55 sought support.
- "Physicians often feel they are the ones who have to show strength in crisis and though they will tell their patients it's not a weakness to seek support, it's not always clear that they feel permission to do that themselves," said David Blumenthal, president of the Commonwealth Fund.
Go deeper: Burnout isn't limited to primary care physicians: A new report from the American Federation of Teachers, which represents nearly 200,000 health care workers, shows how staffing shortages are weighing on nurses and medical workers.
- There were 55,000 fewer nurses working in 2021 than 2020, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data cited in the report.
- "The staffing shortages put a tremendous amount of strain on tired and overworked bedside caregivers," the report states.
- The union recommends safe staffing requirements for nurses, investment in financial aid and scholarships for health workers and raising entry-level salaries to attract workers.
- The Commonwealth Fund survey recommends increasing Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement for primary care services.
What's next: Provider groups are asking Congress for financial relief in the lame duck session, but it's unclear which requests will be accommodated.