ROCHESTER, Minn. (WCCO) — A Mayo Clinic study finds that “burnout” and financial debt are widespread among doctors-in-training.

The survey involved more than 16,000 internal medicine residents and provides a disturbing diagnosis.

“Burnout and reports of low levels of quality of life were very common,” said lead researcher Dr. Colin West.

He said more than half of graduate medical students reported symptoms of burnout. Equally troubling was a finding that burnout — and high student debt — caused lower test scores.

“One theory is that the chronic stress that leads to burnout is inhibiting learning,” West said.

Researchers hope documenting the problem of burnout among doctors-in-training will lead to solutions.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Steve Murphy Reports

Comments (113)
  1. Disgusted this time says:

    If I were an English Major instead of a Civil Engineer, I would have called myself Disgusted,

    1. I am leaving now... says:

      No, my spelling is embarrassing.

      1. FrailGirl says:

        I’m an editor, and I wouldn’t have a job if everyone, including SMEs, were perfect! 🙂

        1. FrailGirl says:

          oops! if everyone “was” perfect! eek!

          1. Patriot says:

            “were” is actually correct for the tense you used.

            1. To Be or not to Be?? says:

              To Was on not to was, that is the question:

              Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
              The slings and arrows of those who prefer ‘Weres’ instead of ‘was’s’,
              Or to take arms against a sea of gramatical Purists?
              And by opposing end them?….

              I don’t believe that Shakespear would care a wit about a ‘was’ or a ‘were’! 🙂

              As it were. :0

              See ya and have a good day!

          2. Herb Slojewski says:

            “were” perfect is correct, friend, since we are using the word “if” at the opening…if I were you I’d quickly grab a Strunk & White…nuck nuck

            1. Jill says:

              “Were” is in the subjunctive mood, actually.

              1. Mark@Up_in_Smoke says:

                If I “had been” ? from the area….does this work fer ya LOL

  2. FrailGirl says:

    My dear friend is a nurse, not a doctor, but the hours are brutal. She worries that in her colleagues’ exhausted state they will make critical mistakes. She worries because she cares, not because she’s whining. And this was a survey that asked for new doctors’ opinions — so naturally they got the same kind of story that these folks would tell their family and friends. For those of you who endured long hours, didn’t you every now and then comment on being tired and sometimes overburdened or overwhelmed? And, more important, thank you very much for enduring and for your service. It’s a giving profession, for certain.

    1. *** says:

      Completely agree with you! By the way, your post was a breath of fresh air. It was so nice to read a thoughtful and positive post.

      Have a good day FrailGirl. 🙂

    2. Joshua Arguien says:

      I agree. My sis in law is a new nurse…and the procedures they have to follow have more to do with limiting liability, than actually curing patients. The whole medical system is so frightened of regulation and tort repercussions, they’re unable to practice properly.

    3. Timothy Frohlick says:


      Your dear friend is in danger of burnout too. Nurses today remain in nursing for less than four years.

      Tim Frohlick

  3. kubrick says:

    I would just add to the comment I made that overall I am personally happy because I am in a subspecialty field.

    My primary care and surgery friends are pretty depressed in practice though. A close surgeon friend of mine committed suicide due to a bad surgical outcome. Another friend from medical school had a psychotic break during residency. I can actually go on much longer with this.

    On the other hand, my friends at the investment banks are close to retiring and are not even 40. I’m not saying that complaining is productive but if you think the massive disparity between these industries won’t make a difference in the long run to our society, you are wrong; there will be a massive shortage of smart doctors, in my opinion, as they realize the stress is not worth it.

  4. wally says:

    We have a doctor and medical school shortage. This is the result. We only have 133 medical schools, we need 4 times as many. Medical schools, in fact all colleges, should start acting like businesses. They must grow enrollment to meet demand, even build new campuses all over the country. But instead of growing, they just increase tuition every year. This needs to stop.

    1. kubrick says:

      this will never happen for obvious reasons as the government regulates this. as it is, they are trying to make the bar higher for students. do not think that there are even close to enough american undergraduates who can effectively be good doctors in this environment, medicine has become incredibly complex, they should focus on trying to find the best doctors possible. unfortunately, as our educational system is weak, many of these doctors will continue to be imported

      1. ACEDoc says:

        Are you suggesting that the doctors being “imported” are better educated? Our Medical Schools are almost exclusively full of American undergraduates, there are just more residency spots than available graduates. I think there are plenty of undergraduates who could handle the ri5gid academics and work of being a physician, I just think less are going to be willing to spend a few hundred thousand and several years of their life to take a career filled with high burnout and ever-increasing financial disincentives.

    2. M4 says:

      FWIW right now the main bottleneck is residencies, NOT medical schools. There are more applicants than there are slots – although fewer US graduates than slots, the foreign and offshore grads more than make up the difference.

      And yes, I would say that foreign grads who make it in are very smart docs!

  5. Greycoat says:

    Don’t worry! Obamacare will fix everything! /sarcasm off
    What we all need to do is go not after Big Oil, who get less per gallon that the government does, but BIG ED (education) No one even questions the tuition fees and costs of colleges and universities which year end and year out continually spiral upward each year. Oh wait Leftists making huge profits at universities are immune from attack.

  6. lukuj says:

    You think they are burnt out now! Just wait until Obamacare kicks in. Those that haven’t retired or gone to strictly private concierge practice will be even more burnt out as they have more and more patients and are allowed less and less time to see them and less and less freedom with how they are allowed to treat them because of costs.

  7. Frew says:

    Taking care of patients demands a lot of time. You can’t let people put their heels up without detracting from the care. You can’t have three shifts of doctors without increasing the costs.

    This is all part of a fad that says that residents are over worked and should be worked less. Pretty soon they’ll complete their training without ever having to see a patient.

    They have already cut down the hours residents work tremendously.

    Because of the increasing restrictions put on the amount of time residents work it has gotten to be more practical to dispense with resident training and hire hospitalists, PAs or NPs. These residency directors will schedule residents for our clinics and then the resident shows up and tells you that she can’t work in the clinic that day because she was on call the night before. The residency still expects to be paid for the resident’s service in the clinic that day, though, and the staff has to take up the slack. To heck with that.

    1. kubrick says:


      i have older cousins ranging from 50 down to 25 in medicine as well as myself, mid-30s. this debate has played out many times at family reunions.

      what we have learned is that a) residents work way less than they did back then & b) medicine 20 yrs ago was prehistoric, way less treatments existed, & things were much simpler. my older cousins said they actually slept overnight on call in the “call rooms”. i graduated and never even saw the call room. i had 85-100 pts on night shift on good weeks and close to 150 on the toughest weeks. residency back then may have been more physically grueling but as the older docs told us there was not much to do back then besides give potassium and aspirin. things have changed. it is more complex, it requires significant critical thinking to choose between the # of drugs out there today versus ’70s or ’80s!

      r u telling me that in the 1970s, the doctors were managing 150 pts on their overnight shifts? please!

    2. kubrick says:

      “The residency still expects to be paid for the resident’s service in the clinic that day”

      Last I checked the salary was around $45-55k per year for an 80 hr work week as a PGY1-5. keep in mind these are people with 8 yrs of post high-school training. this equals less than $15 before taxes. the govt subsidizes the hospitals and clinics with a pretty large chunk of $ of which they keep the profit after paying the residents income. do u really think if u get 100 hrs per week out of the residents for a $40k salary, medicine will improve!?

    3. harry pate says:

      My son started his residency this July.

      His Hospital director told him that he is not supposed to work more than 72 hours a week. If his schedule requires him to work above the lawful limit, he should report the problem to this director.

      That was what this director all the new residents.

      My son is currently working 95 hours every week.
      He is not alone working long hours above the legal limit.
      Who is going to take lead by reporting the abuse and invite negative marks on his / her career?

    4. dan says:

      Frew- Lighten up- I’m a recently minted doctor who went through 3 yrs residency and then 3 yrs fellowship. We worked 36 hour shifts. Many of said shifts were without sleep. It is a horribly taxing but enriching and rewarding experience. You learn by doing to an extent, but often times the residents are scutted to no end. In one month of an ICU rotation, both of my young/robust colleagues developed bleeding gastric ulcers. I suffered, but doing so gave me a skill set that allowed me to be able to effectively heal. But it was overkill. Oh yeah, and for “free time,” most residents try to make a few extra bucks working uncomfortably as moonlighters. I myself wanted no part of reading when I got home because life was work.

      Cutting down of the hours is a good thing- it’s proven to save lives. You can’t argue. The studies have been done. Shorter shifts and more rested trainees = less mistakes. End of story.

  8. Ron Wagner says:

    It is way past time that we draw on our military medics. Give them the credit and jobs that they deserve, and let them go right into medical positions that they have already been trained to do. They could quickly become registered nurses and Nurse Practitioners or Physicians Assistants. Registered Nurses can become Nurse Practitioners also. Physicians need to be relieved of the sole responsibility for taking care of all the decisions related to primary care. This will also lower the cost of primary care.

    1. Timothy Frohlick says:


      Some nurses can become advanced practice/nurse practitioners. I would say that ten to twenty percent of nurses have the smarts to be NPs. Five out of fifteen members of my Physician Associate class in the USAF PA Program went on to become MDs or lawyers. PAs back East get $150,000.00/year in remuneration as do NPs. Please don’t confuse PAs and NPs with medical assistants. I was a medical corpsman/assistant before becoming a PA.

      Tim Frohlick, ret. Physician Associate, ret. USAF

      PS PAs don’t belong to physicians. PAs work as part of a team to help the patients. Sometimes PAs tell physicians how to practice medicine. I have done so many times during the over 20 years that I served as a PA. Physicians get angry when you tell them how to practice. Sometimes the PA testifies against the MD in a court of law if it is warranted for the safety of the patient.

  9. Tom says:

    I don’t kknow about the rest of you, but I really don’t want the guy operating on my brain worrying about paying his bills and navigating his way through mountains of government forms.

    1. Family-trust says:

      Neurosurgeons in my small town make well over a million $ a year. Long careers at let’s say 2 mil a year. 60$ million in 30 years conservatively. Girlfriends on the side may get expensive, but not that expensive.

      1. Neurosurgery resident says:

        That is not a conservative estimate. Most neurosurgeons make less than a million a year and I know of only a handful that might make 2 million. Neurosurgery is lucrative, but if you want to rake in the cash, go into banking.
        Neurosurgery resident

        1. Timothy Frohlick says:

          Dr. Neurosurgery Res.,

          You forgot to tell Family-trust that a couple of $10,000,000.00 lawsuits can erase much of the profit in a 30 year period…assuming that the neurosurgeon operates that long.

          Thank you for choosing a demanding field.


  10. davec says:

    This is all deliberate on the part of medical MANAGEMENT. work nurses to death, pay them nothing, THATS why theres a nurse shortage.

    and HOW CONVENIENT, suddenly these scam 1-2 year schools are turning out “medical assistants” that cant spell ass for that matter. Utterly useless.

    But they are a cheap apparent replacement for a qualified RN or LPN.

    This doctor overwork is nothing new either, I dont know a practitioner that isnt grossly overworked and agreed with a poster above, there is no excuse for over working them except for management to profit from O.T.

  11. Howard Feinski says:

    i ask you to look at both sides of the spectrum.
    Side one: A kind and caring missionary doc gently looks over the shoulder of the resident (in a mission field hospital) and nudges her in the right direction, winking at small errors and guiding her into the position of a responsible, adept clinician of the first order. There’s stress from e long hours and feeling inadequate, but it’s a gentle, helpful stress which does not lead to suicide.
    The flip side: A phalanx of cold bureaucratic snobs methodically critique the tiniest of gestures without regard to the patient, the staff, nor their wives. They delight in making up new rules to layer onto the old, almost daily, and enforce them with swift brutal justice, without a shred of mercy. They set a goal of disciplining ten to twenty per cent of their residents monthly. The bulk of their regulation knows no bounds, and they are joined by govt agents, insurance reviewers, hospital lackeys, peers, lawyers, and most important, vulture staff nurses looking for blood.
    Which side of the spectrum do you want if you are the student?

  12. ERDOC says:

    Actually I finished residency 5 years ago and am still paying back 200k in loans. I have no regrets regarding my debt because it has allowed me to do something that I love. I knew of the rigors of medical school and residency prior to beginning and made a conscious choice to pursue a medical career because it was my dream. Too many phsyicians have gone into medicine for the worng reasons such as money or parental expectations. It is not for everyone. There are plenty of professions that demand less of your time and are fruitful.

    Frew i completely agree with you regarding resident work hours. Residents work less and therefoer see fewer patients and their associated pathologies. The training is therefore poorer and physicians clinical skills suffer as a result.

    1. kubrick says:


      since u graduated 5 yrs ago don’t u fall into the same camp as the residents u r talking about having subpar skills?

  13. ERDOC says:

    Kubrick, instead of having an intellectual discourse you insult me. That demonstrates your own insecurity. As stated above i completed 2 residencies and resident work hours were instituted at the University of Florida where i trained in 2005. I completed internal medicine in 2003 and therefore fortunately was not affected. My emergency medicine residency was not affected as ER is shift work and less call. If you ” didn’t see the call room” as you claim I wouldn’t entrust you with the care of anyone much less someone i cared about. You obviously were not exposed to enough pathology. You would be pretty fortunate to have me standing over you if you were wheeled into my emergency room. You completed one very weak residency. I completed TWO very intensive ones. Grow up.

    1. kubrick says:


      ok first i apologize! this was not meant to be an insult. in ny, the rule has been here since around 2000 & many programs implemented it before then. so when u said 5 yrs ago i genuinely assumed u had the same 80 hr work-week rule in place so i couldn’t understand why you would attack the system u were trained under.

      second i “didn’t see the call room” because it is not possible to take a 5 minute nap on call where i trained. if u started at 5pm, u were up & on ur feet until 7am, 6 days on 1 off. my statement was meant to say that the older generation were working in a time period where there was less rigorous work overnight. it was common to be able to sleep or take naps during your 24-36 hr shift, unlike now where u r working every minute.

      3rd, ER is “shift work” as u say. so why do expect that the ER docs should be in 12 hr shifts and not work 24 hrs straight? again the point i’m making is that running the floors right now as a resident is brutal (at least when i trained), it’s not easy and u really shouldn’t have people up after a 14 hr shift with multiple codes, 6 days straight. yes, they violate the rules.

      a lotta of my peers complain about how bad it was when we had it compared to now when there are PAs, etc. i agree it has gotten easier but i’m not going to blame the residents for creating this. it was created due to medical errors and the death of a resident in ny state whose father was a senator. there is a limit to being macho, we’re not training for a boxing match.

      finally, “You completed one very weak residency” – i did a 8yr neurointerventional program. even had i done a 3 yr psych program, all this shows is that u r quick to jump to conclusions…

      1. kubrick says:

        i also forgot to say this is a public site, not a medical site.

        why would u want to spread the idea that doctors are blind to safety issues? it’s hard to fight that battle when the docs who are involved are willing to treat their own colleagues like dirt?

        i don’t really hear alot of people saying that doctors in new york under 40 are all horrible because they were poorly trained

  14. Olddoc says:

    As a doc who has been out practicing nearly 20 years, I too say man up. The kids who are entering medicine these days are wimps. They have well defined restrictions on the number of hours they can work, are generally lazy, and frequently self-centered. I’m usually at the hospital well after the residents have gone home (or more typically out to the bar). Walking done the halls of the hospital, all I hear is how they have plans to go to a particular club or sporting event. How dare they have to take care of a sick or crashing patient.

    1. AnotherMD says:

      “We live in a decaying age. Young people no longer respect their parents. They are rude and impatient. They frequently inhabit taverns and have no self-control.”

      — Inscribed on an Egyptian tomb appx 4000 BCE

      Apparently some things never change. The older generation always had it tougher, trained harder, overcame longer odds, sacrificed more and achieved greater mastery than the lazy ingrates who followed after.

      1. gason says:

        Agree, I trained in a time where you endured the long hours and hard work to accomplish your goal of becoming an MD. Times have changed, I feel that physicians are not respected like they once were and a lot to do with it is the bureaucrats that are telling physicians how to practice from the government and insurance companies. It seems medicine is the most highly regulated profession in this country you are spending enormous amounts of time filling out paper work worried about what new BS guidelines you have to follow and who is going to sue you for nothing. ALL THIS CONTRIBUTES TO BURNOUT! A majority of physicians over 50 are quitting or would like to quit medicine if they could. What is coming is a major shortage of physicians, hope yours in the future is able to speak English!

        1. Olddoc says:

          Point well taken but that is no excuse for a lack of worth ethic and shoddy care. At the large teaching hospital where I practice there is not a single U.S. trained physician in the Internal Medicine program and depending on the residency, nearly every student is foreign trained. Americans are turning away from the profession of medicine in ever increasing numbers. With the aging population and dire shortages of physicians, we are headed for a disaster of epic proportion. Congressional misanthropes are now trying to micromanage the 16% of GDP in order to raid the coffers to pay off their union goons and special interests. In the end, it is the patient who suffers. Our future is spelled out in the British National Health Care System and it ain’t pretty.

          1. Timothy Frohlick says:

            Dear Old Doc,

            Resomation or alkaline hydrolysis will be available at subsidized prices once the elderly are euthanized. I agree with everything you say. I was a PA-C from
            1979 to 2006. I noticed an increasing selfishness and viciousness in both patients and physicians as the years rolled by.

            Keep up the good work,

            Tim Frohlick Capt. ret. USAF, Physician Associate

          2. Dr. Doom says:

            Its their own fault. Physicians in America are spokes mouths for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry. They have no ethics.

            According to the latest WHO research, American healthcare isn’t even in the top 30 countries in the world.

            1. Olddoc says:

              OK Dr. Doom, by all means please travel elsewhere for your health care. Just today, I read another report how CT’s/MRI’s are being limited in Britain. Great strategy – don’t look, don’t find, don’t treat.

        2. Ilene Little says:

          I think it is harder to be stay “fired-up” and committed in the face of the pressures that are contributing to doctor burnout. Times are changing; it’s not the same end-game for doctor lifestyles as it used to be — in fact it’s all up-in-the-air and unknowable, which is mentally unsettling. And, I think patients need to be concerned about about how that all trickles down to quality of care. I’d like to hear your feedback as an MD to the article “Patients Will Suffer From U.S. Doctor Burnout” (

    2. CORE says:

      hey docs, haven’t you heard? kids today lack empathy, even if they have an MD next to their name. young people today are the most spoiled, laziest, self-centered, coddled, counseled, and protected beings in the history of humanity. several decades of liberal/socialist teachers in public schools telling kids how special and wonderful they are, parents who never had to go to war or serve in the military, people who have never had to endure any kind of real suffering or hardship, breed WEAK people. the good news is, the coming economic collapse and eventual world war, will weed these losers out the minute their type II diabetes meds run out and their i-phone batteries go dead.

    3. Dr. Dave says:

      And while you are at the hospital where are your wife and kids. We all sacrificed for our patients to the detriment of our loved ones and ourselves. A better balance can be achieved through skill in the business side of the practice. We learned clinical skills well, but no one every helped educate us in the business aspects that affect our lives more than any patient’s disease.

    4. Jake says:

      MAN UP, people, that’s what is told to the rest of us serfs, like the nurse who steals Fentanyl from patients in the OR.

  15. Olddoc says:

    On another vein, unless people are dedicated to medicine, i.e. entering the field because of altruistic motivations, they are sadly mistaken. From a purely financial perspective, they are much better off considering other careers. Friends of mine who went into business or even working for the fire department are now retired and/or enjoying their second homes/careers. As a doc, I endured years of grueling training, horrible pay, huge indebtedness, and long hours. While my friends were off boating, playing golf, and enjoying time with their families, I was working. Now, I’m in my mid fifties and have about as much wealth as my friends did twenty years ago. Would I have traded any of it? Possibly, but knowing what one is in for ahead of time is, in my opinion a pre-requisite for entering medicine.

  16. alison says:

    The hours are a lot less now than they were 20 years ago. Residents are limited to an 80 hour work week. They are called residents because they used to reside in the hospital.

  17. R.C. says:

    Knowing how much debt is required to become a physician, knowing how much garbage they deal with, all the studying that’s required, the long hours, the difficult home and social lives endemic to the profession, the bad and worsening pay . . . there is no way I would even consider becoming a physician. I became a pharmacist instead. I only work 10-12 hours a day, and when I go home to my wife, I’m genuinely sorry for the residents and students I round with, because I know they have to stay at the hospital all night.

  18. alison says:

    I know lots of ER residents. It is interesting to see how the residents today live compared to how they lived 20 years ago. Most drive new cars, they live in upscale neighborhoods and they take fancy trips. Maybe if more lived on the cheap until they actually made the big dollars they wouldn’t be so stressed from debt.

  19. ERDOC says:

    Kubrick, Okay I understand where you are coming from. I guess we were both a little quick to jump to conclusions. However there is another side to your argument about work hours. That is pateint care. With the institution of the Bell commision and it’s subsequent limitations, there is an increase of patient signouts. This is where things get missed. Patient care suffers. My mentor who runs the MICU saw a noted decline in clinical skills in the residents that had to comply with an 80 hour work week as compared to those who graduated prior to their institution. Personally, my sister in law was very upset that her IM residency was limited by these restrictions.

    1. kubrick says:

      u r right about the signout situation. that is a big disaster. but the volume on the floors is massive. we had 3 interns overnight for about 200-300 pts. i don’t know if this is how it used to be hwne people did overnight 36 hr calls.

      i was involved in looking into this as a senior, what i think is that the population of u.s. and hospital overnight stays is WAY more than 20 yrs ago, with more complicated decision trees, and also the legal expectation that u cannot make a mistake.

      ultimately the heat from these regulations is not related to residents complaining but hospital regulators, who get pressure from the legal department. this is even more true if the hospitals are self-insured, as they are in ny. a $15 million case to the hospital due to residency error is tough to defend in public now.

  20. rich says:

    no dodge ball in school–coaches can’t yell at players and residents can’t work 36hr shifts every 3-4 nites–the more you see the more you learn–maybe the marines will adapt this –lets see the enemy is chasing us but I am too tired –wait I will just call time out and take a nap –they must be tired as well–I actually had to know what to do for patients with having to look eveerything up on an i pad–another older M.D.

  21. rich says:

    that is without having to look up everything–my typing is poor

  22. jonbatt1 says:

    its because we re running a 9 to 5 medical system in a 24/7 society.
    If we spread the patients over a 16 hour day we lessen the cost per visit and more para-medicals to work..

  23. PEDSDOC says:

    Can medical errors occur when physicians are tired? The answer is of course “yes”. Interns and residents are supposed to be supervised when working. The upper level residents and attending physicians need to make sure that the decisions the lower level resident make are sound. This is how physicians learn to make good decisions when they are tired. There are many days in private practice that Im tired. Sometimes it was because I was up with a sick neonate at the hospital all night and sometimes it was one of my 3 kids up vomiting all night. Learning how to work when you are tired is an important skill that many younger physicians lack. Also with the reduction in hours during residency I think they need to extend most residencies by 1-2 years so that medical residents get the same exposure that those of us who trained before the work hour restrictions were put in place.

  24. curious says:

    What are these hours doing to the homefront? I’m not in medicine but if I worked those hours every week I’d be missing out on a lot of my family’s life not to mention what my wife felt.

  25. Captain Obvious says:

    Is’n it a great thing to know that these burnt-out sleep-deprived doctors will be there to help you when YOU get into an auto accident?

  26. Zack says:

    I am a strong believer in limited resident hours because the 3-7 year hazing that used to be standard is neither productive in terms of education nor safe in terms of treatment. That being said, residents themselves often complain the most about the 80 hour work week because they feel they don’t get enough exposure. What really needs to happen (and most residents don’t want) is to lengthen out the time of residency. OBGYN should be a five year residency, surgery should be at least six years and many other residencies should be lengthened.

    The problems are 2 fold: medical education is so long that no one wants to make it any longer; and no one wants to continue accruing interest on their loans. As it is, medical school really ought to be five years for the amount of knowledge taught. As more is discovered and medical practice is complicated we can’t expect to fit in all additional new information in the same time period indeffinately.

    It’s either that or severly diminish the quality of education, both in residency and medical school. The only real options are lengthen the years of training, or diminish quality and patient safety. It’s not an easy choice but it’s reality.

  27. Family-trust says:

    It is so nice to read what I always suspected, you actually think you deserve a 7 figure salary! check out the country clubs, private schools, and mansions in any city and who do you find? Drs, children of said drs. and grandchildren of said drs.

    Your patients are often destitute but you don’t care. What other profession has salaries totally unrelated to what customers can pay. Bankrupt the gov’t,you can go hang out with your fellow drs.

    1. Olddoc says:

      Wow, what an angry post. But you had better do your homework before you spew your hatred and misinformation. While you were out doing bong-hits and partying all night long, doctors were in school studying including 4 years of undergraduate, 4 years of medical school – 8 years of uncompensated and in fact net negative earning years. Then they spend another 4-10 years working as residents making what a baby sitter makes on average. So, all told while you were working as a fireman or whatever and earning $40-60k with no indebtedness while accumulating nearly 20 years of pension benefits as well, the average physician has accumulated $200k of debt and little to no retirement. I’m in my mid fifties and have finally turned to a net positive cash flow. There’s no pot of gold sitting at the end of the rainbow for me and many of my colleagues. Meanwhile, my high school and college chums are enjoying retirement in Arizona, their vacation homes, boats, etc. If you think we are expensive, take care in knowing that the average dealer mechanic charges more on an hourly basis than I receive. Ever try to hire an attorney? A decent one costs between $400-1500/hr. So in a word, take care of your sorry-a$$ self when you get sick-you ain’t worth jack.

    2. kubrick says:

      i don’t think that the doctors deserve a 7 figure salary. but the country is rapidly depleting the smart students by giving them the economic greenlight to go into banking instead. they will do this whether or not u like it, as long as there is a massive salary discrepancy. this is how capitalism works, for better or worse.

      most doctors don’t want more money but less legal and paperwork related stresses…

  28. A good idea would be to interview internists over the age of 60, see where practices and techniques have changed.

  29. Jim H says:

    we are the ONLY country that requires a 4 year degree before starting med school – the burnout starts very very early for our doctors. The educational establishment is ridiculous.

  30. J Mac says:

    New Direction
    As a Dad of a daughter entering college with high hopes of becoming a Doc., I am considering advising her to go a new direction. Maybe engineering, Vet. School or computer science. With the comments you folks have made, plus the tidal wave of change coming from the Gov. care- why in the world go through this life a slave to work. Cause, calling, care or just because you are a giver is no reason to die a slow death from stress. Thanks you all for your many sacrfices and excellent perspectives. Please get some rest… Cheers

  31. Frank says:

    It’s really not about the hours, I’ve been a doc for over 22 years so I have seen the system change. What’s changed is the satisfaction and respect you get as a doc. It used to be you were responsible to take care of people and you were happy to rise up to the challenge, even though it meant >100 hour weeks, the job was important, the money took care of itself and you could focus. Now we are evolving more into a system increasingly run by bureaucrats where the doc is needed more as a signature than the person to whom people depend on. The hours haven’t changed but the paperwork is now the focus instead of the care. This is why docs are depressed. 17 years after HS to train for a job where more and more you are a cog in a painfully dysfunctional system.

  32. michelez_box says:

    Good news, and nothing that couldn’t be solved with single-payer or a national healthcare plan, federalization of licensure and removal of state-ist borders for purpose of employment.

  33. Erik says:

    Seven years ago, I married a woman who was trained as a OB/GYN. She also learned how to fix leaky bladders. We first got married and lived in Atlanta and she made about $180k. Long story short, I found her a job down here in Florida and now she nets over a $1,000,000 a year. Every urodynamics test pays her $800 (and the nurse does the work) and every little elctronic device that she implants pays in the tens of thousands. She’s milking the Medicare system, testing everyone she can just as fast as she can and decided to divorce me unless I signed a post nuptual agreement… that’s love! TRUE STORY
    Medicine pays when you find your niche, on the other hand, greed can destroy your life.

    1. gynie says:

      Yeah, I f*cked her too.

  34. patient advocate says:

    Good news, and nothing that couldn’t be solved with single-payer or a national healthcare plan, federalization of licensure and removal of state-ist borders for purpose of employment.

  35. pr*ck_kerry says:

    Good news, and nothing that couldn’t be solved with single-payer or a national healthcare plan, federalization of licensure and removal of state-ist borders for purpose of employment.

  36. Gabor47 says:

    I am a physician with four decades of experience. Never mind about the burnout. While it is a problem, it is the smaller problem. The bigger problem is the quality of college students who apply to medical schools. Being a doctor used to be a glorious profession. Now it is known to be a profession with long hours, decreasing amount of income, increasing amounts of regulations and bureaucracy, endless paperwork. Barely any time for the patients. Why would the top college students go to medical school while there are a bunch of new and fascinating areas of technology they can go toward? They don’t go to medical school. So comes a second tier. THAT will be the real downfall of medicine.

    1. kubrick says:

      u nailed it on the head.

  37. Ray Taft says:

    I’ve worked with doctors for more than 20 years as a technician. That makes me invisible to most doctors. What I hear them talking about is their big homes, fancy vacations and luxury cars. My advice to doctors is to use their money to buy political clout instead of luxurious living.

    1. Timothy Frohlick says:


      When I was a medical technician I cleaned the doctor’s shoes. In turn, they wrote me strong recommendations for further training. They also talked about homes, sports cars and vacations. Once I took care of a doctor’s
      home and dog and got a big kosher salami as a reward….delicious.

      Don’t worry about these folks being smarter and better than you. Most are. Just worry about doing a great job in your own field. You are valuable.


  38. John Eagle says:

    Whats embarassing is the terrible so called “care” at most hospitals and clinics. Doctors are just drug pushers with long educations. Besides lip service to improving health and the quality of life, they do next to nothing to save our poor country from wanton use of medications/drugs/surgeries instead of low cost/high return non-medical approaches. This guy is part of the problem. The new docs are a result of poor nutrition, poor lifestyling, poor everything…. so of course they are “whiners.”

    1. Timothy Frohlick says:


      When I practiced medicine ,in the good old days, I told my depressed patients to exercise, my fat patients to eat half as much and exercise and the drug reps to take a hike.

      Tim Frohlick, PA-C retired

      1. Dr Dave says:

        And look where we are now, fatter and in worse shape. Your communication skill was less than effective. Sounds like the the of business skill seen at GM and Chrysler as opposed to Apple and Ebay. Docs who want it better, check out Business Ed by Md MBAs

  39. Raycr says:

    Federal Law The Fair Labor Standards Act prevents non -supervisory people from working more than 16 hours a day. Check it out its the law.

  40. franklin808 says:

    I will have sympathy when rich doctors start paying their fair share of taxes.

  41. Mike Bergstein says:

    I worked with first year through fourth year residents in Transplant surgery at University of MN hospitals in the 1980’s and most of them were overworked and underpaid. They could be on call for days and this led New York state to enact legislation that limits on call hours. Still, although they were all highly intelligent, I found them ruthless, mean, vicious and difficult to deal with. The Surgery Department was making money off those residents while the department head and the other ones made huge salaries and didn’t give a damn for people under them. I got ulcers and high blood pressure from them all and had to quit. I’ll never work with physicians again.

  42. Early Ardmore says:

    The truth be told is that the current system of educating doctors, the boot-camp method, not only burns them out but lowers their IQ 6-8 points. Think that’s pie in the sky? Search Dr. Bill Deagle and give him a call and he’ll explain it. He’s a doctor that can lay it all out.

  43. pf says:

    There is a trend to maximize physician’s incomes and minimize the cost (years of education, hours per week working and studying, and the cost of education) in these discussions.

    A typical American will spend 4 years of undergraduate training; many also have grad school and post grad experience, followed by 4 years of medical school, then residency. So by their mid thirties they have $250,000.00 plus debt. I’ve known physician couples with just under a million. So when most of their friends are well into their carriers, they are working, starting a family, buying a house, etc.

    So what do they have to look forward to? If you don’t go into a high paying specialty like cardiology, you have decades of debt. What do I know? Well I am in my late 50’s, on-call on average every 3rd night and make less than $40/hr. Out of that comes all of my expenses, like retirement, malpractice, health insurance, … On top of that, 80% of what I do is dictated by regulations that add no clinical value or information. Why do pathologists have to have pain management CME is some states?

    No wonder FMGs have an advantage. They start right out of high school, have a less costly education and they don’t have false expectations that they actually get Wednesdays and weekends off. Also, many of them already have clinical training before coming here and starting a residency.

  44. Tom S says:

    Part of the problem is that the latest generation are wimps, but more importantly, anyone entering the medical profession as a doctor these days have to figure that they may not get the return on investment in education needed to become a doctor. The smart potential doctor (i.e. likely to be compentent) will recognize that the future holds no financial benefit as was usually the case with being a doctor. All their patients will be either medicare or medicaid patients with the Government paying less and less for services. I am not saying that you should be a doctor merely for financial gain, but you got to pay the bills and feed yourself.

  45. ConcernedDoc says:

    Actually there is a true concerning side to this story. Obamacare will result in a mass exodus of us experienced physicians from the healthcare system. At the same time 32 million newly entitled patients will flood the system seeking care. We need young physician’s that are highly motivated to face these challenges not a bunch of burnouts!! If you have to get sick, it better be before 2014!!

    1. Saro Nara says:

      Good. Glad to see you leaving. No more unnecessary operations and hospital infections. Bye.

    2. kevin says:

      you will need 32 million new doctors to enter all the computer data required by the ‘system’.

  46. Justin says:

    well I am a 3rd year medical student, both my parents are surgeons. I can tell you that I spend $75,000/year x 4 years for medical school tuition/costs. that’s on top of $30k/year x 4 years in undergrad. So, the thought that I may not make 1/10th of my parents’ income is kind of troubling and kind of pisses me off, considering it was way harder for me to get into school than it was for them, or anybody 5 years ago, 10 years ago, 20 years ago, or ever. And the kids who are 10 years after me are even more screwed. I don’t look forward to a primarily hispanic customer base paying me with medicaid, sorry if that offends you – I don’t care

  47. Dennis Fisher says:

    I have little sympathy. I tried to get into med school a couple years back. I had the scores and GPA, but at 38 I was told (off the record) I was too old. Having 2 different engineering degrees I would have thought acceptance would be a no-brainer as did my interviewers. Unfortunately, the chair of the U of Minn med school thought differently and my app entered the trash 3 years in a row.

    The entire medical system is infected with government. The hospitals rely on government paid residencies (which government limits) claiming they can’t afford to pay for their own training (isn’t it funny that engineering firms pay for their own interns?). Yet, the AMA and larger medical non-profits (there’s a ridiculous term) push for more and more government involvement.

    The medicare ponzie scheme is fated for bankruptcy since politicians can’t make the necessary cuts and still get re-elected, not to mention more physicians will leave the program (don’t all pyramid schemes end up collapsing on themselves?)

    Ummmm no sympathy. None. Epic fail.

    1. pf says:

      How many medical schools did you apply to? Did you apply to Caribbean schools? So with a minimum of 12 yrs of training after you are accepted, what makes you think you are so special as to exclude a 24 yo with just as good as credentials?

      It is a nonsequetor to invoke problems with the government to the plight of young physicians.

      1. pf says:

        My error, should read: So with UP TO 12 yrs of training …

  48. emgarb says:

    30 year career Doc (emergency medicine) and still working – around 10 years ago, you spent most of your time with the patient and a few minutes writing a note – now you spend 75% of your time at the computer, minimal time with the patient and with this change, your patient skills decline, your patient rapport has no time to develop and the new docs are basically medical information technology experts who talk on the phone and sit at the computer – they are over teched and under skilled – they are not used to anything else and tend to whine a lot because each new patient is an hour of inputting data – that’s why we’re all burning out! Hippocrates would not be pleased!

  49. DD says:

    The healthcare system is about to collapse. Today, $12.00 is a good job. People are trying to provide for themselves and a family on that. Private sector insurance is going away. More people are forced to become self-employed. Those big saliries doctors and nurses are getting are going to fall big time. They have to. There is no money anywhere. On the upside, the government may decide to forgive your loans since you salary will be much, much lower.

  50. Timothy Frohlick says:

    Dr. ErDoc,

    I commend you on your fantastic accomplishments. As a physician you must be
    understanding of others faults. Once you become a professor of ER medicine, make sure that you inculcate devotion to duty without using too much force. Be
    tough but don’t break the resident’s spirits.

    Keep up the good work,

    Tim Frohlick, PA-C retired

  51. majjg says:

    The reason that test scores are lower among medical students is that the smart people(who used to go into the medical field) have figured out they don’t want any part of it. So now you have the second tier. Still smart but not but not uniformly to the level of entrants in prior decades.

  52. Harry says:

    I tried to talk my son out of entering Med school 3 years ago. My good friend was a doctor so I had an idea what he could expect. I told my son it would take an enormous commitment and putting his life on hold while he pursued his dream. I questioned his commitment and told him of the financial burden it would put on him.
    All of these things have proven to come true, however the biggest of these is the financial burden. Like others he is worried about paying back his loan and the direction health care has gone.Stress, you wouldn’t believe the stress this puts on med students. I keep telling him to hang in there and to his credit he has.
    To those who would tell him to” man up” and quit whining, I would tell them that today’s reality is not the same as it was 10 or 20 years ago. I’m not sure when doctors decided to become superman and try to do a never ending marathon to show what overachievers they are. My question is can you blame them about being disillusioned. In economics it’s called the law of diminishing returns.
    We have a doctor shortage and with the baby boomers coming of age it would make sense to reevaluate the way we train and finance med students.

  53. Kevin says:

    True about mental toughness, but there is lots of mental toughness in medicine. I have never seen so many jerks in my life. That isn’t toughness. It is a dehumanizing environment and now it’s fixing to get lots more less personal with the forced collective enema that computerized charting represents. Talk about less than satisfying work. You haven’t seen nothing yet. Call me weak, call me sensitive, or call me right. I don’t care. I know what I’m talking about.

  54. Matt says:

    I have a huge amount of respect for Doctors, especially the ones at Mayo. My son spent months there over several years, and the Surgeons we dealt with were not only working long, long hours, but were always very polite as well.

    Now that Obamacare has put the same uncertainty into the Health Care System as it has in the rest of the business sector, it will only get worse as few kids choose to go into the profession.

  55. NVDoc says:

    First of all, I am a board-certified surgical specialist, and I’d be happy if I could achieve a SIX figure salary, never mind the seven figure salary being bandied about. I find it amusing how much people believe doctors get paid these days. I charged $211 dollars for a surgical procedure, and the patient’s insurance paid $31. My overhead for that amount of time was $50. I am as altruistic as the next guy, but the insurance company CEO or the government bureaucrat makes a hell of alot more money than do I. I wonder how many lives they saved?

    Ultimately, society will get what it pays for. It won’t be pretty.

  56. doc2004 says:

    Should have gone to dental school.

  57. Slavtrader says:

    Get over it. Your own union known as the AMA has created much of this situation. You want your high wages, expect the work to be spread among fewer workers.

    Nobody even talks about what has happened to the engineering community in America over the last 20 years. At least these guys have wages that will grow with their career. Engineers are being asked to stay quiet in the back room and run the guts of the business with no increase in pay, all the while developing outsource talent that can one day take their jobs. America’s engineering brainpower is heads above these doctors and we’ve gotten nothing but 21st century slavery for it.

  58. Bud says:

    I’m a retired Ob/Gyn and was there for the long hours of training. The hours never really changed in practice. More importantly the responsibility continually escalated, especially with new science and methods. It was more than a handful it was an art to work and keep up at the same time. I look back on it now and I still feel the same way I did when I was finally an attending. I would do it all over again. I loved what I did and could no more be an engineer or CEO than be a bird. I am sure that all other professionals feel the same way weather they were practicing family medicine or neurosurgery. I wouldn’t change anything.

  59. The latest latest medical devices says:

    of course like your website however you need to take a look at the spelling on quite a few of your posts. Many of them are rife with spelling problems and I to find it very troublesome to tell the truth on the other hand I’ll certainly come back again.