United Nurses of Alberta is slamming Health Minister Tyler Shandro for suggesting staff vacations are causing emergency room problems. (Black Press Media files)

United Nurses of Alberta is slamming Health Minister Tyler Shandro for suggesting staff vacations are causing emergency room problems. (Black Press Media files)

Physicians were suffering burnout and then the pandemic made it worse, UBC study finds

Burnout prevalent among 68 per cent of doctors – likely a reflection of issue globally, says researcher

As vaccine rates tick towards herd immunity and governments reveal plans of a post-pandemic summer filled with travel and gatherings, nurses and doctors trying to help COVID-19 patients are likely looking towards some serious rest.

A new study from the University of British Columbia, released Friday (June 11), is shedding light on physician burnout and the concerning need to address it.

Burnout is characterized by emotional exhaustion and depersonalization—which is a lack of care about the work. It also affects workers’ sense of personal accomplishment.

Researchers from UBC’s faculty of medicine surveyed 302 internal medicine physicians from two Vancouver-based hospitals between August and October 2020, and found burnout prevalent among 68 per cent of doctors. A further 20 per cent said that they had either considered quitting the profession or already left a position.

ALSO READ: B.C. nurses issue plea for all to follow health orders as hospitalizations spike

Pre-pandemic, physician burnout was already on the rise before tripling the odds in the past year and a half, according to Dr. Nadia Khan, research lead and medical professor.

Increased bureaucracy – doing more so-called “non-physician work” – the sheer number of patients being seen, and the increased number of extended weekend and evening shifts have taken a toll on physicians, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers suspect.

“I think that this issue is not unique to just these two hospitals. It is widespread. I would say global,” Khan said. “It’s also not just amongst physicians but likely affecting other healthcare workers.”

From those surveyed, burnout was prevalent among 71 per cent of women compared to 64 per cent of men. It was found to be highest (74 per cent) among younger physicians between 36 to 50 years old.

WATCH: New COVID-19 testing machine takes load off B.C.’s virologists and labs

Women were two times more likely to report emotional exhaustion and feeling less personal accomplishment, while visible minority physicians had 1.8 times higher odds of feeling low personal accomplishment in comparison to white respondents.

So why is burnout such a concern?

“We know physicians who are burned out are more likely to make medical errors regardless of work unit safety measures,” Khan explained, adding that physicians have one of the highest suicide rates of any profession.

It also comes at a cost to tax payers, with early retirement and tired physicians reducing clinical hours, equating roughly $200 million, according to a separate study.

The findings highlight the need to focus more on mental health and the working conditions in the healthcare industry, the researchers concluded.

“Physicians don’t have time to work on solutions to make patient care better when they are just barely getting by,” Khan said.

“We need to create a sustainable workforce because a more sustainable and thriving healthcare system means better quality of care for patients.”


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusUBC

Just Posted

Members of the Langley Christian High School donated blood to mark their milestone year. (Left to right) Kiera Hummelman, Camryn Visscher, Jayde Campbell, Grace Bennett, Danae Vanderveen, Cynthia McCarthy (teacher), Carson Foster, Josh Nelson, Carsen Grim hope to inspire others to donate. (Grace Bennett/Special to the Langley Advance Times)
Langley Christian grads roll up their sleeves to donate blood

Students went to a mobile clinic and hope to inspire others to donate

Share your opinion via email, through our website or in a posted letter. (Heather Colpitts/Black Press Media)
LETTER: Religion doesn’t have a lock on morality, Langley resident writes

People must ultimately decide for themselves how to act

A letter from a senior RCMP officer in Langley said Mounties who attended a mayor’s gala in January of 2020 used their own money. Controversy over the event has dogged mayor Val van den Broek (R) and resulted in the reassignment of Langley RCMP Supt. Murray Power (L). (file)
Langley RCMP officers used ‘own money’ to attend mayor’s gala, senior officer says

‘I would not want there to be a belief that the police officers had done something untoward’

On June 3, the <strong>Langley Advance Times</strong> published a two-page poster for the public to put up in their windows. A local parent is calling on all businesses with signs to take part in a sign challenge and post messages to local grads.
LETTER: Langley mom hopes to incite sign ‘war’ to send messages to grads

Students finishing high school have missed out on so many rites of passage, letter writer says

Cloverdale – Langley City MP Tamara Jansen produced a video that argues a proposed law against so-called conversion therapy would have forbidden a young man from seeking church counselling. (file)
VIDEO: Cloverdale Langley City MP Tamara Jansen produced video opposing ban on conversion therapy

Claims law would have forbidden man from seeking counsel from the church

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Robert Nelson, 35, died after being stabbed at a homeless camp in Abbotsford on April 7 of this year.
Mom pleads for information about son’s killing at Abbotsford homeless camp

Robert Nelson, 35, described as ‘man who stood for justice, honour, respect’

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Police arrest the suspect in an attempted armed bank robbery on June 2 at the Scotiabank at Gladwin Road and South Fraser Way in Abbotsford. (Photo by Garry Amyot)
Abbotsford bank robbery suspect who was stopped by customers faces more charges

Neil Simpson now faces total of eight charges, up from the initial two

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

Most Read