A recent SERMO poll asked our doctors if they considered themselves workaholics. While 54 percent answered yes, a strong majority, 46 percent, said they happily were not.
As one physician put it, “I believe I am a workaholic due to circumstances and would be happy not to be one … much of it stems from a reality of expenses and uncertainty of our future, with a desire to save for an early exit.”
Definition of a workaholic
Many physicians noted the difference between working hard and being a workaholic. Per Wikipedia, a workaholic is addicted to work. The term implies the person enjoys their work, but they feel a compulsion to do it above other activities and social relationships.
Many doctors noted workaholic tendencies form during med school and residency. A medical school program is long hours of memorization. Internship and residency are now capped at 80-hour work weeks, far above the average American work week of 47 hours. One surgeon wrote, “The workaholic component I suffer from comes from good old-fashioned abusive general surgery training. Rule 1 – trust no one. Rule 2 – if you want something done correctly, do it yourself.”
But many can just turn it off as they head out for the day. An osteopath wrote, “I’ve never been a workaholic. Always give it my all while at work, but never felt the need to be at work when I had no need to be. Some people thrive on work, the more the better. I like my time off.”
Physician burnout is quite real, doctors often talk about the factors that contribute to burnout. From a bigger perspective, US doctors don’t make as much as their counterparts around the globe when you factor in time off and hours worked per week.
As a physician do you consider yourself a workaholic? What do you do to beat stress on the job? We frequently talk about this topic inside the Sermo community, if you’re an MD or DO please join us.