Many surveys have looked at burnout and depression across physician specialties, but Practical Dermatology® magazine’s recent poll was intended to take a deep dive into how feelings of burnout or depression are affecting dermatologists and patient care. (Information about the survey is provided in the sidebar.) It is our hope that these results will foster debate and help to advance much-needed solutions for the betterment of dermatologists and our patients.

Just shy of 74 percent of dermatologists responding to our survey reported feeling symptoms of burnout or depression. By contrast, 68 percent of US-based physicians reported experiencing some level of burnout in a survey by Incrowd,1 suggesting that our specialty may be harder hit than others.

About 70 percent of those surveyed don’t believe that feelings of burnout are affecting patient care. Could they be wrong and to what end? This is the million-dollar question.

The reasons that dermatologists are feeling fed up run the gamut from administrative burdens (69 percent), stricter government regulations (58 percent), insurance hassles (66 percent), financial pressures (40 percent), lack of work-life balance (47 percent), and too-long hours (31 percent). Many also reported disrespect from patients and staff as contributors to feelings of burnout and depression.

About the Practical Dermatology® survey

One hundred sixty one dermatologists responded to the survey. Most dermatologists who responded have been in practice for 30-plus years. Thirty-five percent work in a group practice and another 35 percent report being in solo practice. About six percent work in hospital-based practices and 9.4 percent are employed by private equity-run practices. Just shy of 12 percent of respondents are in academic practice.

Half of all respondents provide medical and cosmetic dermatology services. Roughly 40 percent focus solely on medical dermatology and three percent are cosmetic only. Dermatologists report working 30 to 60 hours per week.

When asked how they manage feelings of burnout or depression, respondents shared a wide variety of coping methods—some positive and some negative. Specifically, 67 percent of dermatologists say they engage in regular physical activity to feel better. Other positive coping mechanisms included practicing mindfulness, spending time with friends and family, sleeping, and listening to music.

One quarter of respondents said they drink alcohol to deal with their negative feelings about work. Some respondents admitted to making unhealthy food choices and consuming marijuana-containing products in response to pressures at work.

In the next Digital Practice column, I will discuss solutions to burnout and depression gleaned from the survey in the hopes that we can put our patients before paperwork and learn to love our jobs again.

1. IncrowdSurvey. “Physicians Say Burnout Remains High, and Hospitals Aren’t Doing Enough.” https://incrowdnow.com/press-release/physician-burnout-remains-high-and-doctors-say-their-hospitals-arent-addressing-it-according-to-new-data-from-incrowd/