Interested in specializing in critical care? You may want to reconsider.

A recent survey conducted by the American Medical Association asked 15,000 physicians across 29 medical specialties to answer questions about the prevalence of burnout factors in their specialties. According to an AMA Wire report, 42% of physicians overall experienced burnout, and 15% “admitted to experiencing either clinical or colloquial forms of depression.”

According to survey results, physicians who specialized in critical care, neurology, family medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, internal medicine, or emergency medicine experienced the highest percentages of burnout — 48%, 48%, 47%, 46%, 46%, and 45%, respectively. Conversely, those specializing in plastic surgery, dermatology, pathology, ophthalmology, or orthopedics experienced the lowest rates (23%, 32%, 32%, 33%, and 34%, respectively).

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The leading cause of burnout? “Too many bureaucratic tasks,” according to survey results. Additional responses included spending too many hours at work, lack of respect, computerization of practice, and insufficient compensation.

The survey also asked physicians to share their thoughts on how burnout could be reduced. Thirty-one percent of physicians suggested a more manageable works schedule; 27% indicated that slashing government regulations would help alleviate their burnout. Additional suggestions included greater respect from patients (12%), more positive attitudes from colleagues (8%), opportunities for education and professional growth (8%), and a more supportive spouse or partner (5%).

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Urologists and cardiologists were among the top specialties who were least likely to seek professional help for their burnout; psychiatrists were the most likely, followed by plastic surgeons, public health physicians, pediatricians, obstetrician-gynecologists, and dermatologists.


Berg S. Physician burnout: It’s not you, it’s your medical specialty. AMA Wire. August 3, 2018. Accessed August 29, 2018.