A Call to Action

5 key takeaways from Medscape’s 2018 physician burnout report

Octavia Cannon, DO, emphasizes the responsibility of physicians to educate students and residents about physician burnout.


Octavia Cannon, DO, called on physicians to teach students and residents about the importance of life outside of medicine at the AOA LEAD (Leadership, Education, Advocacy & Development) Conference Jan. 25 in Austin, Texas.

“Remind them the importance of empathy.” Dr. Cannon says. “Encourage them to take time for themselves.”

Distress for young physicians is at its peak during training in medical school and residency. In Medscape’s 2018 National Physician Burnout and Depression Report, 42% of physicians reported symptoms of burnout.

5 key takeaways

  1. Critical care medicine, neurology, family medicine, ob-gyn, and internal medicine were the top five specialties with the highest rates of burnout. The five specialties with the lowest burnout rates included: plastic surgery, dermatology, pathology, ophthalmology and orthopedics.
  2. Over half of physicians who reported feeling burned out noted having too many bureaucratic tasks, like charting and paperwork, as a contributing factor.
  3. Physician depression affects patient care. About one-third of physicians reported that they are easily exasperated and 32% of physicians reported they were less engaged with patients because of depression.
  4. Physicians cope with burnout with exercise (50%), talking with family members and close friends (46%) and sleep (42%).
  5. Physicians were torn about solutions to reduce burnout. Increased compensation to avoid financial stress (35%), more manageable work schedule/call hours (31%) and decreased government regulations (27%) were the most popular suggestions.

Find the full report here.


  1. Dawn DO

    Please see #2 and #5 above!!!!!!! Teaching students and residents about burnout and resiliency does not FIX the problem. Just as medications don’t FIX a lot of health problems. Advocating for change in government and insurance oversight, as well as a decrease in click boxes and bureaucracy are the answers. It’s as if physicians continuously tell people what they hate about medicine, and the bureaucrats just tell us to suck it up again. I hate being told to treat this like health care is a product. I treat people, not products. I want to help people. The more physicians take back their autonomy, the less toxic the healthcare environment will be. Physicians need to make healthcare better for physicians. Physicians are too used to being bullied around and should fight back for their own health and sanity.

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