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2024's Most and Least Burned Out Physicians By Specialty

Medscape’s Physician Burnout and Depression Report for 2024 shows improvements and new concerns in mental well-being.

A medical assistant puts a mask on a surgeon

In Medscape’s latest burnout and depression survey, 9,226 physicians answered questions about their mental well-being and its contributing factors. Of the 26 specialties included, emergency medicine physicians reported the largest rates of burnout for another year running.

While 2024’s survey reports slightly lower rates of burnout than 2023, it also indicates increases in poor mental health days.

Most burned-out specialties

The 2024 Medscape survey asked physicians whether they had feelings of burnout.

Based on the results, the specialties with the highest rates of burnout are:

  1. Emergency medicine: 63%
  2. Ob/Gyn: 53%
  3. Oncology: 53%
  4. Pediatrics: 51%
  5. Family medicine: 51%
  6. Radiology: 51%
  7. Pulmonary medicine: 50%
  8. Anesthesiology: 50%
  9. Gastroenterology: 50%
  10. Internal medicine: 50%

Least burned-out specialties

Physicians in the following fields reported the lowest rates of burnout:

  1. Plastic surgery: 37% 
  2. Ophthalmology: 39%
  3. Psychiatry: 39%
  4. Pathology: 41%
  5. Otolaryngology: 43%
  6. Orthopedics: 44%
  7. Neurology: 44%
  8. Diabetes & endocrinology: 44%
  9. Surgery: 45%
  10. Critical care: 45%

Causes of physician burnout

Physicians reported that the following factors most contributed to their burnout:

  • too many bureaucratic tasks
  • long work hours 
  • lack of respect from colleagues and employers
  • inadequate financial compensation
  • lack of respect from patients 
  • government regulations

Results from the survey indicate that most physicians attribute the majority of their burnout or depression to job stress. However, some physicians report that pressures at home also play a role.

Medscape suggests that home-based and family stressors may also partially explain why more female physicians report burnout than male physicians. Other reasons burnout may be higher in women include:

  • differences in access to resources, such as sponsorship or mentoring
  • fewer women in leadership roles
  • compensation disparities
  • differences in career advancement opportunities

Advice for overcoming burnout

Managing burnout or seeking further help is important for both your patients’ and your own well-being.

While burnout can be a powerful, disruptive feeling, many approaches may lead to improvements.

Coping mechanisms some physicians reported using for burnout included:

  • physical activity 
  • talking with family or friends
  • supporting sleep health
  • getting alone time
  • playing or listening to music
  • meditating 

Other approaches, such as counseling or seeking support from peers, may also help.

When to seek help

According to the survey, 42% of physicians describe having felt burned out for more than 2 years, while up to 16% report considering leaving medicine due to burnout.

Consider reaching out for professional help if you’ve noticed a low mood or a negative change in your feelings.

If talking with a mental health professional isn’t for you, help is still available. The American Medical Association Trusted Source American Medical Association Highly respected international organization Go to source offers free online educational modules to help you advocate for change in your organization to prevent burnout, improve resiliency, and increase satisfaction.

The bottom line

Burnout can be difficult to deal with when practicing medicine and is common among physicians. According to Medscape’s survey, reasons for feeling burned out mostly link to work-related stressors.

However, approaches to promote self-care and workplace change can help alleviate burnout and prevent negative consequences. It is important to recognize that, much like for your patients, support is out there.

Was this helpful?
  1. Kane L. (2023). 'I cry but no one cares': Physician burnout & depression report 2023.
  2. McKenna J. (2024). Medscape physician burnout & depression report 2024: 'We have much work to do.'
  3. Top 10 Culture Change Interventions to Reduce Burnout and Improve Physician Well-Being. American College of Physicians.
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.