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Pandemic underlines need to address physician burnout, study finds

Two out of three Vancouver physicians surveyed in a new UBC study faced burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Researchers from UBC’s faculty of medicine reviewed survey responses from 302 internal medicine physicians who worked for Vancouver General Hospital and St. Paul’s Hospital between August and October 2020.

They found burnout was prevalent among 68 per cent of physicians and noted over 20 percent of surveyed physicians were considering quitting the profession, or had already quit a position.

Dr. Nadia Khan

“I think that this issue is not unique to just these two hospitals. It is widespread. I would say global,” says research lead Dr. Nadia Khan, a UBC general internal medicine professor. “It’s also not just amongst physicians but likely affecting other healthcare workers.”

Physician burnout was already on the rise before the pandemic, says Dr. Khan, noting the COVID-19 pandemic tripled the odds that physicians said they felt burnout.

“We know physicians who are burned out are more likely to make medical errors regardless of work unit safety measures,” she says, adding that physicians have one of the highest suicide rates of any profession.

Significant toll on women, racialized, and younger physicians

Burnout is an occupational syndrome characterized by emotional exhaustion and depersonalization—which is a lack of care about the work. It also affects workers’ sense of personal accomplishment.

Read the full article here on UBC News | Pandemic underlines need to address physician burnout, study finds