Burnout prevalence is 20 to 60 percent higher among women physicians than their male colleagues. Understanding why women physicians are burning out is important for identifying effective ways to address the problem.
Here’s my take on the underlying causes:
1. Women physicians provide more time-intensive care. Female primary care physicians have longer patient visits and engage in more patient-centered communication. Female surgeons in training write longer notes, spend more time in clinical review, and spend more time handling in-box messages than their male peers.
2. Female patients gravitate to women physicians and tend to want to talk more than male patients. A 2018 study found that women physicians have more female patients than male physicians do, and female patients want longer visits and more empathetic listening, especially from women. However, female physicians are generally not afforded additional time to meet these additional patient expectations.
3. Women physicians are more likely to be married to spouses who work full time than male physicians. A 2014 study of young physician-researchers showed that female physicians were far more likely to have a spouse that worked full time than male physicians (86% versus 45%). Two careers usually equates to more money, but also more stress and trickier logistical challenges.
I recently wrote a guest post on the changing demographics of American physicians. I crafted it as an open letter to organizational leaders, who need to understand and respond to the shifting needs of these physicians if we are to have a healthy physician workforce in the years to come.
Dear Healthcare Leaders, Board Members, and Interested Others:
You may have noticed a recent trend in your human capital. If you haven't, here's the upshot: Your physician workforce is changing.
And to guide your organization, you'll need to understand those changes — and shift your priorities accordingly. As a physician and author dedicated to helping my clinician colleagues thrive, I'm here to help.
Here's how your workforce is evolving...
Read the rest of the post here!
I recently wrote a piece for athena insight, based on a focused review of athenahealth's data on physician gender and burnout. What I saw intrigued me, and led me to think we need a better way to measure and reward the work that physicians do...
Is the practice of medicine a different experience for male and female physicians? Two recent studies from athenahealth suggest that it is — in ways that should make us rethink what we value in health care.The first study found that male physicians are more productive than their female counterparts. In an analysis of 47 million visits on the athenahealth network in 2016, male physicians generated 30 to 40 percent more work RVUs than female physicians. (A work RVU, or relative value unit, is a measure of physician work effort that is used to calculate reimbursement.)
The second study found that professional burnout is higher among women physicians. A survey of 1,029 practicing physicians found that women under 45, in particular, were significantly more likely to report burnout than men.
In other words, women physicians are both less productive and more likely to burn out.
Read more here.