Opinion | A Crisis of Burnout Among Doctors

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To the Editor:

Re “New Survey Suggests an Alarming Increase in Physician Burnout” (news article, Sept. 30):

There is a crisis brewing within the health care industry. More than half the physicians in this country suffer from burnout, and roughly 300 to 400 die by suicide each year. Common causes of burnout include increased administrative tasks, long hours, frustration with the electronic health records system and insufficient compensation.

Interestingly, the burnout rate among independent physicians in New York City, at 13.5 percent, is dramatically lower than the national average of 54.4 percent.

However, there has been a significant decline in independent physicians because of the policies put in place by the Affordable Care Act that favor larger corporations and hospitals. As a result, independent medical practices are increasingly being acquired by hospitals and large corporations, which tend to put profits before patients and exercise absolute control.

While there’s little growth in the number of physicians entering the work force, there has been a more than 3,000 percent increase in health care administrators over the last four decades. Unless the increasing power of hospital and practice administrators is curtailed, the situation will only get worse.

Congress needs to act now.

Bhupendra O. Khatri
Milwaukee
The writer is a neurologist and the author of “Healthcare 911: How America’s Broken Healthcare System Is Driving Doctors to Despair, Depriving Patients of Care, and Destroying Our Reputation in the World.”

To the Editor:

While we appreciate the attention to the issue of physician burnout in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, we wish to highlight a critical part of this story: The survey discussed in the article demonstrated that female physicians were twice as likely to report burnout.

As physicians, we are no different from the public. We have children, parents and loved ones who depend on us. In the pandemic, female physicians disproportionately took on child care, schooling, household and work-from-home tasks compared with male counterparts. Larger studies show how work-life interference — worse for those with caregiving responsibilities — contributed to burnout.

Repairing physician burnout requires looking beyond patient encounters to examine policies and resources that support caregiving and address the burdens that female physicians face. Programs like the Covid-19 Fund to Retain Clinical Scientists are concrete ways to systematically counteract burnout and support retention of women and caregivers in our work force. It’s imperative to act.

Anna Volerman
Bree Andrews
Vineet Arora
Chicago
Dr. Volerman is an associate professor of medicine and pediatrics, Dr. Andrews is a chief wellness and vitality officer and Dr. Arora is the dean for medical education at University of Chicago Medicine.

Show the Russian People the Atrocities in Ukraine

To the Editor:

Re “The Lives of 3 Women, Brutally Lost in Bucha” (front page, Oct. 16):

The Russian people need to know of their military’s atrocities in Ukraine. We should find ways to penetrate their cyberspace and airwaves with graphic images and information about their soldiers’ rape and murder of civilians, and their military’s wanton bombardment of nonmilitary targets like schools, hospitals and public squares.

Relentlessly barrage the Russian public with videos and photographs of the horrific human suffering caused by their tyrant’s hopeless pursuit of a restored empire. Show them the bodies in the streets and the graves.

Make them aware that Russia’s cultural and national image, of which most Russians are proud, has been befouled by Vladimir Putin and his enablers.

Mark Miller
San Francisco

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