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Every leader in health care should be asking “How can we better support physicians?”

Fam Pract Manag. 2023;30(4):38-39

Author disclosure: no relevant financial relationships.

I was a poster child for physician burnout. After working as a family physician for 25 years, I left medicine in late 2021 because I felt I had nothing left to give patients. I had wanted to be a doctor since I broke my leg when I was 7 years old. I still remember sitting in the emergency department's orthopedics room, looking at all the stuff on the wall and thinking, “I want to know how to use all this.” My entire educational and professional career had been geared toward becoming and then being a physician. As I walked out of my office in late 2021, I remember feeling empty. I wasn't happy to be leaving. I wasn't sad. I was just numb.

My burnout experience was not unique and highlights many of the issues practicing physicians face today. A recent article noted that more than 60% of physicians surveyed two years into the COVID-19 pandemic reported at least one symptom of burnout.1 While I was fortunate to find a way back to primary care, too many of our colleagues leave permanently and patients suffer due to decreased access.


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