New survey identifies high levels of burnout in under 40s

2019 11 06 00 03 9599 Doctor Sad Lean Wall 400

Work-related stress and burnout have become increasingly common problems among healthcare professionals. But a new report finds that burnout isn't just in older workers -- it's also being reported by younger professionals.

In all, 74% of respondents to the Future Health Index 2020 survey said that they regularly experienced work-related stress, while another 34% reported that they had considered leaving healthcare due to stress. And 35% reported that they felt overwhelmed by the amount of digital patient data they had to deal with.

The Future Health Index is an annual survey conducted by Philips Healthcare on important issues in medicine. This year's survey focused specifically on issues faced by younger healthcare professionals, according to Dr. Jan Kimpen, PhD, global chief medical officer at the company.

For the report, Philips conducted a survey of healthcare professionals younger than 40, receiving 3,000 responses from individuals in 15 countries. The survey queried medical doctors as well as allied health professionals such as nurses and radiographers/radiologic technologists.

The survey identified three primary areas of interest in younger health workers:

  1. The gap between their medical training and the reality of their everyday work
  2. Their love/hate relationship with digital technology
  3. Steps that can be taken to improve working environments to keep them in the healthcare profession

The report's findings include the following:

  • 41% said the reality of their career did not live up to their hopes and expectations.
  • 44% of survey respondents said their medical education did not prepare them for administrative and business tasks, like billing, budgeting, and workflow management.
  • 35% see themselves becoming overwhelmed by digital patient data coming their way.
  • 35% said they did not know how to use patient data to guide patient care.
  • 78% of survey respondents said they knew nothing about value-based healthcare.

The findings are an indictment of the disconnect between medical training and the reality of the healthcare workplace, Kimpen believes.

"It is pretty embarrassing that their education is not preparing them for the job they have to do for the next 30 to 40 years," he said in an interview with

The numbers also demonstrate the love/hate relationship that younger medical professionals have with digital technology. In all, 64% said data sharing restrictions can result in incomplete digital data, 39% said the data they get are not actionable, and 33% said what they do have access to isn't relevant.

How can administrators address these concerns? Possible solutions cited by survey respondents include the following:

  • Improving the integration between digital technology and healthcare workflow
  • Reducing stress
  • Promoting work environments that foster collaboration
  • Making work conditions as flexible as possible without compromising continuous patient care

"If we don't listen to these young healthcare professionals, we will lose them in the long run," Kimpen said. "They will leave the profession."

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