Physician Burnout: 3 Primary Causes

By: Dzhingarov

Physician burnout has been an ongoing epidemic worldwide, and its pervasive, negative impact affects many aspects of the healthcare profession, including but not necessarily limited to performance, career, and job satisfaction. Thus, combating this syndrome must be a priority for all medical practitioners. But before you can do so, you must first be able to identify it. It’s no easy feat when it’s considered to be taboo despite how common it is.

Moreover, burnout and stress prevention aren’t generally covered in residency training or medical school. We’ll fill this gap by exploring the primary causes of burnout to help you find ways to overcome them. Continue reading if you want to know more.

1. Administrative tasks

The work of a physician will always be stressful. There’s no getting around this fact. It’s a fundamental part of the profession because you generally deal with human life, and the work can sap energy even on your best days. However, it isn’t the actual practice of medicine that causes burnout but the non-clinical work associated with it. Paperwork and other administrative burdens are consistently cited to be at the top of the grievances of most physicians.

No one becomes a doctor to address admin duties like billing—they do it to help patients. It’s one of the reasons why many healthcare practitioners are choosing to work with a medical recruitment company instead, as the locum tenens lifestyle usually keeps admin work at a minimum.

2. Long hours

Ideally, there should be a healthy balance between your personal and professional lives. However, in many cases, healthcare practitioners often have to ignore their spiritual, emotional, and physical needs due to their profession’s long hours. As a result, they’re unable to achieve a work-life balance, compromising not only their performance but their health as well. In these cases, it’s always best to take a step back and re-evaluate the situation to see if there’s room for scheduling improvement.

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If there isn’t, becoming a locum tenens practitioner is possible. Beyond the benefits of reduced administrative burden mentioned previously, it also offers healthcare professionals more flexible schedules to ensure that they don’t compromise their personal needs.

3. Poor leadership

There’s a saying in management that employees don’t leave companies; they leave their bosses. Poor leadership has a much more significant impact on burning out than people give it credit for in any line of work, including the healthcare sector. Absent, unskilled, and overbearing leaders can lead to a lot of undue stress that can affect the performance and health of physicians. Therefore, organizations need to make sure only the right people are placed in positions of power. Doing so can help reduce burnout.


Due to how common it is, many take burnout for granted. However, this is a mistake that should be avoided because it can have a severe impact not only on the physicians but also on the quality of care they provide their patients. Now that you know what some of the primary causes of burnout are, you’ll know how best to steer clear of them.