According to new American College of Cardiology survey data, cardiologists are increasingly experiencing burnout. What is particularly troubling is that this burnout, which is occurring most in mid-career and female physician cardiologists, is occurring while efforts to reduce job-related stress have been ramping up. Whereas less than 27% of cardiologists reported burnout in 2019, this year, that number has jumped to over 35%.
The survey, completed by more than 2,000 cardiologists, showed that more than 45% of mid-career cardiologists – with between 8 and 21 years of experience – feel burnt out. In comparison, about 35% and 31% of early-career and late-career physicians reported burnout, respectively. While 33.5% of men who practice cardiology said that they were experiencing burnout, more than 45% of women cardiologists claimed to feel burnt out.
In addition to career stage and sex, the likelihood of burnout amongst cardiologists also appeared to depend on cardiologists’ perceptions of the stress level of their work environments. For instance, for the group of cardiologists who reported having a hectic work environment, only 14.6% said that they did not experience burnout. On the other hand, 32.3% of this group reported feelings of stress, and nearly 60% reported burnout. Of those who claimed to be concerned that they had made a significant medical error over the past 3 months, 58% reported burnout, and 33% reported stress.
In addition to the nature of work stress, work volume influenced likelihood of burnout amongst cardiologists, with those working more reporting higher levels of burnout. Of the cardiologists working 60 hours per week or more, 41.5% reported burnout, whereas 29.5% felt burnt out if they worked between 40 and 59 hours each week, and less than 18% of those working fewer than 40 hours per work reported feelings of burnout.
While more data are needed to understand the impact of this burnout in the practice of cardiology on physician services and on patient outcomes, more than 15% of survey responders said that they are planning to leave their current job. It is the hope of the cardiology community that efforts to minimize stress and burnout will improve job satisfaction amongst cardiologists and ultimately improve patient outcomes.