Healthcare News & Insights

Female doctors have high rates of burnout: Here’s why

Studies show women make excellent physicians, but they experience burnout at higher rates than their male colleagues. Female doctors also have higher rates of depression than average so what’s going on?

A patients treated by female physicians had lower mortality and readmission rates compared to their male counterparts in the same hospital.

Female doctors spend more time with their patients on office visits, and their patients receive more preventive care, education and counseling, and psychosocial attention, according to experiencing burnout at double the rate of their male colleagues? And why do they have comparatively higher rates of depression and suicide (as discussed in an article by Dr. Rebekah Bernard, a family physician from Florida, in Medical Economics.

show that men who were told they were making sexist remarks reacted positively, apologizing for the comments. The men confronted by women about their sexism reported liking the woman more after she spoke up.

Besides sexual harassment, women in medicine experience other issues that contribute to burnout. For example, female doctors are paid on average 10% less a year than their male colleagues, which adds up to about $20,000, according to a separateHere are some ideas to try:

  • Respect physicians’ time. When doctors aren’t at the hospital, limit communications to only the most necessary contact, and make sure programs and systems are user-friendly so physicians aren’t spending more time on administrative tasks than patient care.
  • Support doctors in meeting new performance expectations. Provide clear tools to measure physicians’ performance, reward successes and use mistakes as teachable moments rather than opportunities for punishment.
  • Cultivate a sense of community. Create a culture where providers celebrate each other’s accomplishments and share advice and ideas for how to handle a high-stress position.

Even small steps make a big difference when it comes to creating a positive work environment for all staff members, and putting the effort in can lead to reduced burnout rates and increased retention rates for female doctors, as well as better patient care which is the ultimate goal.

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