Amplifying Physician, Resident and Student Voices to Drive Wellbeing and Care Delivery Solutions
The Physicians Foundation’s 2023 Survey of America’s Current and Future Physicians focuses on the state of physician, resident and medical student wellbeing as well as physician practice environments—and the solutions needed to improve both.
The Physicians Foundation’s 2023 Survey of America’s Current and Future Physicians delves into the wellbeing trends among current and future physicians throughout their educational and professional journey. We also examine factors that hinder physicians as they work to deliver care to patients and save lives. This report transcends data; it is a call to action. We aim to highlight challenges, and also ignite actionable solutions that resonate across the profession.
The state of physician wellbeing—for both current and future physicians—remains low.
- For the third year in a row, six in ten physicians often have feelings of burnout, compared to four in ten in 2018.
- Like their physician colleagues, six in 10 residents often have feelings of burnout.
- Whereas, seven in ten medical students report often have feelings of burnout.
Medical students’ overall wellbeing is lower than both residents and physicians.
- Three-quarters of medical students have felt inappropriate feelings of anger, tearfulness or anxiety, much more compared to residents (68%) and physicians (53%).
- More than half of medical students (55%) have felt hopeless or that they have no purpose, greater compared to residents (43%) and physicians (34%).
- Nearly two-thirds of medical students have felt levels of debilitating stress, much more compared to residents at 45%.
Current and future physicians report stigma and structural barriers affect their overall wellbeing and mental health.
- Nearly eight in 10 physicians (78%), residents (79%) and medical students (76%) agree that there is stigma surrounding mental health and seeking mental health care among physicians.
- Approximately half of physicians (48%), residents (48%), and students (55%) said they know a physician/colleague/peer who said they would not seek mental health care.
- Four in 10 physicians were either afraid or knew another physician fearful of seeking mental health care given questions asked in medical licensure/credentialling/insurance applications.
This burnout is leading to tragic outcomes to address their mental health.
Current and future physicians need systems and workplaces to prioritize physician wellbeing and perspectives.
- Only 31% of physicians agree that their workplace culture prioritizes physician wellbeing, declining from 36% a year ago.
- Half of physicians or more shared that their workplace rarely or never takes action on eight of the sixteen evidence-based wellbeing solutions identified to support physicians.
- At least half of physicians and residents report third-part involvement, including insurance requirements, documentation protocols, regulatory policies and mandatory training requirements, consistently hinder their autonomy to deliver high-quality and cost-efficient care.
Healthcare consolidation is causing a drastic shift in the healthcare practice environment, and physicians are often not involved in the decision-making process.
At least three in ten physicians and residents have experienced merging with another practice/hospital or acquiring another practice/hospital over the past five years.
Among those physicians experiencing the respective merging/acquisition scenarios, only one-fifth have been involved in the decision process.
Half of residents and more than four in ten physicians expect their hospital/practice will acquire another hospital/practice within the next five years.
- One third of physicians and more than one-quarter of residents anticipate merging with another practice/hospital.
Current and future physicians agree that these changes to the healthcare practice environment are not good for the future of healthcare and impact patient access to high-quality, cost-efficient care.
The future of medicine is dependent on change to offer the right resources and eliminate barriers impacting physicians’ wellbeing and autonomy to deliver high-quality and cost-efficient care.
Among those who had experience with the following strategies and resources:
- 80% of physicians and 85% of residents found reduction of administrative burdens to be helpful.
- 64% of physicians and 80% of residents found confidential therapy, counseling or support phone lines to be helpful.
- 59% of physicians and 64% of residents found change/removal of credentialing application questions to be helpful.
- 64% of residents and 63% of students found change/removal of medical licensure questions to be helpful.
- 57% of physicians and 72% of residents found peer-to-peer support groups to be helpful.
- At least half of physicians and residents report insurance requirements, documentation protocols, regulatory policies and mandatory training requirements as often or always hindering their autonomy to deliver high-quality and cost-efficient care.