Exercise over booze: Radiologists’ top 5 coping mechanisms to deal with burnout

Radiologists who are feeling worn out or depressed on the job prefer to hit the gym (most often in a Toyota), rather than a bottle or joint, according to a new survey of the field, released Thursday.

Medscape recently polled about 450 imaging professionals across the country, hoping to better understand their lifestyles and happiness outside of the workplace. Last month, the website reported that about 46% of radiologists believe they’re burned out, and now, Medscape is pulling the curtain back a little further to reveal more details.

Overall, about 23% of radiologists said they’re happy at work, placing the specialty at third-from-last, tied with five other physician types. Dermatologists, meanwhile, said they’re happiest at work (41%), while neurologists held the lowest spot (18%).

“A career as a radiologist can be challenging. Compared with their colleagues, radiologists’ happiness is toward the bottom of the pack,” Medscape reported.

Back on the homefront, about 51% of radiologists said they’re very or extremely happy when away from the job, placing the specialty in the middle of the list. Rheumatologists lead the way at 60%, while neurologists again scraped the bottom at 44%.

“Spending too many hours at work” was the leading cause of radiologist burnout (50%), physicians reported, followed by lack of respect from coworkers (44%), “feeling like just a cog in the wheel” (37%), too many bureaucratic tasks (31%), and lack of autonomy (30%).

However, radiologists appear to be turning to self-betterment, rather than self-destruction, when coping with these feelings of anxiety. About 52% of the profession cited exercise as their top strategy to deal with such workplace fatigue, followed by isolating themselves from others (47%), sleeping (37%), talking with loved ones (32%), and eating junk food (30%). Only about 2% turned to marijuana for self-care; 17% of radiologists over ate; and 23% drank alcohol.

Radiologists appear to much prefer exercise over the bottle, Medscape found, with 24% working out four to five times a week and 38% doing so at least twice. Nineteen percent of radiologists do not consume any alcohol at all, while 27% have one drink or less a week. And about 18% have one or two adult beverages each week, the survey noted.

Here are a few other interesting findings from Medscape’s “Radiologist Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report 2020”:

  • About 17% said they’re “very anxious” about today’s political climate, while 35% feel somewhat anxious. About 23% of radiologists feel no anxiety whatsoever.
  • Toyota is the most popular brand of car among radiologists at 21%, followed by Honda (13%) and BMW (12%).
  • Radiologists aren’t shy about taking time away—45% said they take six or more weeks of vacation annually, while another 26% typically spend at least three weeks away.
  • About 12% of radiologists have had thoughts of suicide and 1% said they’ve attempted to take their life.
  • Some 70% of radiologists said they have not sought help for depression or burnout, with about half saying their symptoms weren’t severe enough or they could deal with the issue on their own.