Two new studies out this week show that depression and professional burnout are becoming more common among America’s new, young doctors. According to the Washington Post, the first of these studies - published in the Journal of the American Medical Association - found that “nearly one third of doctors in the early stages of their careers screened positive for depression or had symptoms during their medical training.”
New physicians are particularly susceptible to depression in the years spent in internship and residency immediately following medical school due to long hours and taxing personal, physical and professional demands. One of the study’s authors, Dr. Douglas Mata, also attributed the rise in depression to the fact that many new physicians spend “40 to 50 percent of their time on the computer” completing clerical tasks, affording them fewer opportunities for rewarding and enriching clinical experiences.
“The implications for patients also are important. Depression among residents has been linked to poor-quality care and increased medical errors,” the Washington Post states.
The second study, conducted by researchers at the Mayo Clinic, found that burnout is also an increasingly prevalent issue among doctors, with over 50% of physicians reporting that they “felt emotionally exhausted and ineffective” or that “work was less meaningful,” according to the Washington Post.