Physician Challenges in Healthcare

Following the lesson “Challenges in Healthcare: Policy”, we will dive into the different challenges physicians are facing and how that impacts us (the patients). Many of the issues we will see below are not easily controlled by the physicians themselves and we can articulate how health policies have influenced the increase in these problems. Note: This lesson will include content not recorded (a bit of reading to do!)


  • Understand the different physician related challenges going on in healthcare system
  • Understand how policies have created and prolonged these issues
  • Demonstrate your understanding of the challenges during this weeks seminar


Thanks for the introduction Lauren! Now let’s talk about our two major issues:

Physician Burnout

Burnout is when a healthcare professional experiences emotional exhaustion, cynicism, or a distorted sense of accomplishment. It is distinct from stress in that stress can be alleviated, whereas burnout tends to be persistent over a long period of time. The Maslach Burnout Inventory – Human Services Survey (MBI – HSS) measures burnout in healthcare professionals in terms of levels of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and lack of sense of personal accomplishment.

…of physicians sometimes, often, or always feels burned out

Physicians who experience symptoms of burnout– such as depression, exhaustion, and  general dissatisfaction– have been found to be twice as likely to make medical errors.

…of physician time is spent on non-clinical paperwork

Physician burnout is primarily due to problems integrated within the current healthcare system. One particular issue arises from clinical performance reports. These reports are ultimately problematic because of the way in which they present data. Typically, a performance report will rank doctors from highest to lowest performance on a variety of metrics. This presentation can result in feelings of inadequacy, resentment, and disappointment. Furthermore, this mode of presentation oftentimes causes physicians to begin viewing their colleagues as threats rather than potential collaborators

80% of physicians report being at capacity or overextended and not able to see new patients

Performance reports are important because every physician has room to improve. These metrics are a great way to highlight weak spots and help focus overarching goals to provide better care for patients. However, to truly achieve this purpose, the way performance reports are presented and used needs to ultimately change.

Is there a possible solution?

One potential solution to fixing clinical performance reports is adopting a model that promotes group improvement. With this approach, a growth mindset is adopted as opposed to a fixed mindset. As a result, collaborative efforts are encouraged in order to maximize the overall health of patients and thus improve the group’s overall performance. Group work and overall improvement can result in a more internally satisfying work experience. While there are still plenty of other sources of burnout, such as high volumes of paperwork and an overload on patient volumes, this is one fix that can easily be designed and adopted.

Brain Drain

This refers to the recruitment and migration of health care practitioners from developing to industrial nations. Though countries such as the United States, Canada, Britain and Australia acknowledged the influx of human health resources between themselves, this transfer between developed nations was initially seldom seen as an ethical dilemma. However, as people were enticed to leave behind developing countries to work in developed healthcare systems that offered more profit, more balance and more employment satisfaction, a significant “drain” occurred that left third and fourth countries as “donor” countries that saw an out-migration of physicians with few choosing to return.

Check out this video explaining Brain Drain!

How can we tackle these issues?

You might have noticed a common factor through out all these issues: the healthcare system. Over worked doctors, and doctors being pulled from places that need them the most indicates that there needs to be a core change in our healthcare policies. This starts for advocacy for legislature suiting the people’s needs and making sure physicians are given the best care options possible