The 2020 Medscape National Physician Burnout and Suicide Report examined how different generations experience and respond to the pressures of medical practice. The study authors compared Millennials (25-39 years old), Generation X (40-54 years old) and Baby Boomers (55-73 years old). In the survey, burnout was described as experiencing long-term, unresolvable job-related stress that leads to exhaustion, cynicism, feelings of detachment from one’s job responsibilities, and lack of a sense of personal accomplishment.
Overall, 42 percent of physicians reported that they are burned out, down from 46 percent five years ago. But Generation X physicians report noticeably more burnout than other groups, 48 percent compared to 38 percent and 39 percent reported by Millennials and Baby Boomers, respectively.
“Mid-career is typically the time of highest burnout, which is where Gen Xers are in their career trajectories,” said Carol A. Bernstein, MD, vice chair for faculty development and well-being at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in the Medscape report. “In addition, I suspect that group is juggling multiple roles outside of work, including caring for children as well as elderly parents, and working as well as planning for retirement. Role strain and transition periods also increase stress.”
Among all respondents, too many bureaucratic tasks, long hours and lack of support were identified in the survey as the top three contributors to burnout, and 49 percent of physicians reported that they would take a salary reduction to obtain a better work-life balance.