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Recent Poll Shows 60% of Physician Assistants Report Burn Out 

16 Oct, 2023 F.J. Thomas

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Sarasota, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) – According to a study published last month in the BMJ, a quarter of all healthcare visits were with a nurse practitioner (NP) or physician assistant (PA), known collectively as Advanced Practice Providers (APPs). From January 2013 to December 2019, the number of APP visits increased from 14 to 26 percent. 

The number of jobs for PAs is expected to increase by additional 28 percent through 2031. The number of jobs for NPs is expected to increase by 40 percent during the same time period. Cost is one contributor to the increase in jobs, according to statistics from the American Academy of Physician Associates. When compared to patients of physicians, PA patients incur a 5 percent lower cost, and NP patients incur a 6 percent lower cost. 

Another contributor to the increase in APP jobs is productivity. Some studies have shown that PAs see more patients per hour and generate more work per hour than emergency room physicians in low acuity areas. All that productivity and cost savings could be taking its toll however, according to a recent poll on APP burnout. 

According to the most recent Physician Assistant Burnout & Depression Report, 60 percent of the PAs polled stated they were burned out, 29 percent stated they were depressed, and 24 percent stated they were both burned out and depressed. Sixteen percent stated that they were so severely burned out that they were considering leaving medicine altogether. Fifty-two percent indicated that they felt more burned out than they did during the pandemic. 

When asked about the top contributor to burnout, too many bureaucratic tasks topped the list at 57 percent, followed by a lack of respect from employers, colleagues, or staff at 43 percent. Insufficient salary came in third at 41 percent, followed by too many work hours at 37 percent. One sentiment shared in the report is that many PAs “feel like cogs in a machine”. 

When asked what would help to avoid burnout, reasonable patient loads was the top answer at 47 percent, followed by sufficient compensation to avoid financial stress at 45 percent. A manageable work schedule or call hours ranked third at 39 percent, followed by schedule flexibility and adequate staff support at 37 percent for both. 

When asked about the leading causes of depression, job burnout ranked number one at 66 percent, followed by being a healthcare professional at 39 percent. PAs under the age of 45 were more likely to have issues with the nature of the job and with a lack of self-confidence. Those PAs over the age of 45 were more likely depressed due to family issues. 

When asked if they were ever depressed prior to working in healthcare, 45 percent stated they were not. Twenty-six percent stated they were depressed once, and 20 percent reported they were depressed several times. 

While it is well known that depression is associated with an increase in medical record errors, the PAs polled indicated that those were not the only side effects. Forty-six percent stated they expressed their frustration in front of their co-workers, and 40 percent reported being easily frustrated with their co-workers. Twenty-nine percent stated that they were easily exasperated with patients, and 26 percent stated that they were less motivated to be careful with taking patient notes or filling out their history. 

When asked if they had ever attempted suicide, 80 percent stated they had not. One percent stated they had attempted suicide, and 13 percent stated that they had suicidal thoughts but had not attempted suicide. 

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    About The Author

    • F.J. Thomas

      F.J. Thomas has worked in healthcare business for more than fifteen years in Tennessee. Her experience as a contract appeals analyst has given her an intimate grasp of the inner workings of both the provider and insurance world. Knowing first hand that the industry is constantly changing, she strives to find resources and information you can use.

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