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Work-Life Balance: Which Specialties Struggle the Most?

Work-life balance is a struggle for many industries. For physicians, the lack of flexibility is a common factor that leads to physician burnout. In fact, physicians work on average 51 hours per week, which is significantly more than the average US employee who works around 35 hours per week.

With long hours and an ever increasing workload, burnout, medical errors and lower quality of patient care can occur. On top of that, some physicians work even longer than 51 hours per week based on their specialty.

According to the National Physican Burnout & Suicide Report, these specialties are more likely to work over 51 hours per week:

  • ​​General surgery, 77%

  • Urology, 76%

  • Cardiology, 72%

  • Pulmonary care, 68%

  • Nephology, 68%

  • Critical care, 65%

Specialties with (generally) lighter work hours include emergency medicine, dermatology, allergy and immunology, and public health and preventative medicine.

There are several negative impacts to working long hours. Most obvious, longer hours is directly related to physician burnout. When physicians do not have control or flexibility over their schedule and their work-life balance, burnout is more prevalent. In fact, a the Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2021 survey over 12,300 physicians with 47% of those saying they would take a salary cut for better work-life balance.

But did you know as a physician, you don’t have to choose between work-life balance and the pay you deserve?

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