According to Medscape’s 2022 Cardiologists Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report, 42-percent of participants are feeling the effects of burnout. The survey included 13,069 participants from 29 separate specialties from June 29th to Sept. 26th, 2021.
The report analyzes several aspects of a physician’s life, including happiness inside and outside of work, reasoning behind their displeasure, relationships with others, and steps taken to improve their feelings. Some of the major notes of the report showed:
- 42-percent of cardiologists report feeling burnt out.
- Of those cardiologists reporting feeling burnt-out, 55-percent are women.
- Too many bureaucratic tasks led the list of reasons behind feeling burnout (63-percent).
- 39-percent of respondents believed their personality type led to worsening feelings of burnout.
Outside of the office, many physicians felt that their work created conflict with loved ones. 62-percent of report participants claimed their work had had a negative impact on personal relationships. Physicians who had children also reported having some internal conflict as to balancing their career and being a parent. Male respondents reported a conflict rate of 29 percent, while female respondents reported a conflict rate of 37 percent.
“Among cardiologists balancing parenthood and a medical career, female physicians noted feeling conflicted more often than their male peers (49% of females vs 34% of males were “very conflicted” or “conflicted,” the report states.
Mental Health and COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic left professionals in all industries in need for a continued focus on mental health. For medical professionals, a large backlog of patients has placed significant strain on their mental health.
Prior to the pandemic, 69-percent of survey participants reported being happy with their work-life balance. Currently, only 50 percent express satisfaction with their balance. In contrast, the number of physician reporting being unhappy has risen from 18-percent pre-pandemic to 35-percent currently.
This increase in unhappy cardiologists has also spurred a rise in reported depression. 83-percent of cardiologists reported having colloquial depression, characterized by feeling “down” or “blue”.
“Among all physicians who said they were depressed, about a quarter (24%) said they were clinically depressed,” the report states. “Only 7% of depressed cardiologists reported the same.
‘Burnout is a syndrome caused by occupational stress, whereas depression is an illness caused by many different biological, psychological, and social (including occupational) factors,’ Peter Yellowlees, M.D., a physician health expert said. ‘As such, they can be casually related in both directions — burnout can be a vulnerability factor that leads to depression, and depression can make an individual more likely to suffer burnout.’”
To help counter an increased workload and time spent caring for patients, cardiologists are taking steps to improve their mental health. Data shows that, primarily, physicians are spending more time with their families (71%) and exercising (60%) to reduce stress and the effects of burnout.
Other activities included hobbies (55%), eating healthy (44%), sleeping (43%), and therapy (5%).
Cardiologists found themselves aligned with other physicians in another key area regarding work-life balance, cutting pay. Overall, 55-percent of physicians said they would take a pay cut if it led to improved work-life balance. 58-percent of cardiologists agreed with the statement as well, showing that in the current climate, medical professionals are increasingly putting personal health over compensation, driving demand for improved benefits packages across the industry.
What Was Learned?
Medscape’s report provides us with insight into the current feelings of cardiologists surrounding work, mental health, outside activities, relationships and more. Data shows that, like other medical specialties, cardiologists are feeling the effects of burnout due to increased workload and stress, leading to impacts on their personal lives and mental wellbeing.
Additionally, over half of the cardiologists participating in the study said they would take a pay cut to find a more suitable work-life balance, and the rise in those feeling colloquial depression has led many to attempt to find ways to destress and relax.
It is critical that physicians, no matter their specialty, monitor their personal health as closely as they do their patients. Furthermore, physicians should also act when they believe they are experiencing symptoms of burnout or another mental health issue.