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Majority of physicians experience burnout, extreme frustration with stacks of paperwork

Problem is so intense, more than half of the physicians surveyed have considered leaving medical field altogether in recent years, study shows.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

Nearly two-thirds of physicians feel more overworked now compared to when they first started their careers, according to a new national study from

Only 13 percent say they are less overworked now.

Results show overexertion is strongly felt across all practice types, and most physicians struggle with poor work-life balance, the study found. Moreover, thirty-nine percent of respondents didn't think their facility supported a strong work-life balance.

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[Also: Bulk of doctors say healthcare is failing to stem physician burnout, survey says]

This burnout effect is due in part to a decline in free time; physicians are spending more time at work, contributing to the imbalance. The survey found that 64 percent of doctors feel they have less free time now than when they began their careers, and the extra time is often spent doing paperwork and entering information into electronic health records. Twenty-two percent of physicians spend more than an hour each day on paperwork alone.

Physicians are also unsatisfied with the amount of time they get to spend with patients, with paperwork cutting into that time. More than half of doctors, 58 percent, spend less time with patients now than they did when new to the field. It's not for lack of desire: 59 percent want to communicate with their patients in person, as opposed to utilizing text, email or other forms of digital communication, according to the survey.

[Also: Study shows nurse burnout linked to increased HAI]

The problem has become so intense that more than half of the physicians surveyed, 55 percent, have considered leaving the medical field altogether in recent years. Of those doctors, 68 percent said it was due to spending too much time entering data into electronic health records.

And more of them are now taking secondary jobs. Forty-one percent of those represented in the survey have taken additional positions to supplement their income in the last few years, mainly because they've experienced a decrease in primary income. At 21 percent, temporary fill-in positions are the most popular way physicians choose to make additional money, followed by moonlighting (15 percent) and consulting (13 percent).

The study was conducted through an email survey polling about 1,000 doctors in private and hospital-based practice, as well as other practice types throughout all medical disciplines. It was conducted by Hanover Research on behalf of

Twitter: @JELagasse