Study Suggests Physicians Still Working While On Vacation 

24 Mar, 2024 F.J. Thomas


Sarasota, FL ( –Last year, the results of a Medscape survey showed that a quarter of physicians had suicidal thoughts. Burnout and mental health issues in healthcare workers has been a hot topic as multiple studies and surveys have shown high levels of stress across all levels of healthcare workers. Levels of stress may be improving however, as current reports have indicated that physicians may be on the path to better mental health. 

One recent survey showed that the number of physicians reporting burnout dropped from 53 to 49 percent within the last year. What is interesting is that while female physicians have historically reported higher levels of stress than their male peers, female physicians are reporting greater improvement in levels of burnout. Within the last year, the level of burnout reported by female physicians dropped from 63 to 56 percent, compared to male physicians from 46 to 44 percent. 

With mental health on the forefront this last year, health organizations have been making an effort to find ways to combat burnout. Maintaining a work-life balance is vital to managing stress. As part of that balance, vacations with family have shown to be a critical piece to improving physician mental health. However, a recent study suggests that vacation time may not be effective in managing stress if it’s a working vacation. 

Researchers from the American Medical Association in collaboration with Stanford University reviewed survey results of 3,024 physicians who were asked about their vacation habits. Over 59 percent took 15 or fewer days per year of vacation, and around 20 percent took 5 days or less. 

Less than half the physicians surveyed had coverage for their electronic health record inboxes. At least 70 percent of the physicians performed patient care related tasks while on vacation, with 33 percent working 30 minutes or more on a typical vacation day. 

The researchers found that vacation behaviors were associated with physician well-being. Fewer vacation days and time spent performing work tasks while on vacation were associated with higher levels of physician burnout. The researchers believe the results of the study suggest that requiring physicians to take at 3 weeks of vacation per year, providing adequate coverage for clinical work, and providing full coverage for electronic health record inboxes are tangible ways that organizations can minimize physician burnout.  

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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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