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Study finds physicians will cut clinical hours or leave the professional altogether in two years

According to new research by the American Medical Association (AMA), Mayo Clinic, and Stanford University, the burden and bureaucracy of modern medicine, including technological frustrations, inflict a toll on U.S. physicians and appear to be major factors influencing their intentions to reduce clinical work hours or leave the profession. Published in the new issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, the findings show roughly one in five physicians intend to reduce clinical work hours in the next year. And about one in 50 physicians intend to leave medicine for a different career entirely in the next two years. Of 35,922 physicians contacted, 6880 (19.2%) returned surveys.

The study’s authors highlight a correlation between the career plans of physicians and the growing problem of burnout, technological dissatisfaction, and administrative fatigue among physicians. Physicians who were burned out, dissatisfied with work-life integration, and dissatisfied with electronic health records (EHRs) were more likely to intend to reduce clinical work in the next 12 months. Burnout is the largest factor influencing physicians who intend to leave medicine in the next two years. The authors observed: “Our findings have profound implications for healthcare organizations. Replacing physicians is costly to institutions, with one recent analysis suggesting costs of $800,000 or more per physician. In addition, turnover is disruptive to patients, staff, and organizational culture.”

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