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Why Pain Physicians Have High Burnout Rates

Why Pain Physicians Have High Burnout Rates

When it comes to treating patients, United States physicians who work with people in pain are susceptible to a higher rate of burnout than other workers. Emotional exhaustion can take its toll on doctors who have a desire to help patients in pain but struggle to find help for those who wrestle with chronic pain. This can lead to higher rates of burnout in the profession.

Why it Happens

Due to the increased rates of addiction, doctors are prescribing less narcotic medication on the primary care level. This leaves pain medicine specialists to cope with the influx of patients coming through their doors, leading to a growing sense of overwhelm. There are changes in healthcare which also impact how patient care is managed. As models for reimbursement change, it becomes more challenging to offer patients a program that is comprehensive and personally tailored to their needs when physicians and pain specialists have a harder time getting reimbursed for their work.

Defining Burnout

Burnout is essentially a response to chronic emotional and interpersonal stressors on the job, defined by 3 main factors:

  • Emotional exhaustion occurs when the physician tries to distance themselves from the patient to cope with the workload
  • Cynicism is the feeling that nothing will get better no matter what they do
  • Feeling of inefficacy occur when the doctor feels he or she cannot accomplish the agreed upon goals (to manage pain effectively) and support patients through their work as a physician

When a pain medicine specialist and physician is at risk of burnout, there also increases a risk for alcohol use, interpersonal challenges, and the risk of medical error with patients.

Finding Hope

The prescription drug crisis has done lasting damage to the profession of medicine in that it is very common to feel high levels of stress when offering a medicine that may cause addiction for people in pain. Burnout may increase with the practice as the opioid crisis continues to spiral out of control, but pain specialists can work to avoid burnout by taking more time for themselves. Learning self care takes practice, which means pushing to have time away from patient-centered care and maybe focusing on academic research or other areas for a period to re-calibrate. Physicians who believe they may be struggling with burnout or addiction due to job stress can find support through rehab programs designed with their profession and work in mind as they walk through the doors to seek help, and hope, for themselves and their patients.

Serenity strives to be the leader in quality treatment programs for addiction. Our staff and programs are personally tailored to suit an individual’s needs and support their journey to recovery from detox to completion of rehab and beyond. Call us 24/7 at our toll-free number: 866-294-9401