5 Most Stressful Hospital Jobs

Front-line Physicians
The doctor who serves as the lead for patient care experiences a tremendous amount of stress. © nyul/iStockphoto

Between 60 and 80 percent of accidents that happen on the clock take place because of workplace stress-related sleepiness [source: Health Advocate]. Job burnout not only leaves us feeling physically exhausted, but emotionally exhausted, too. It robs us of our work-life balance, and it can cause depersonalization and symptoms of depression, as well as a low sense of personal accomplishment. And in the hospital environment, job burnout contributes to preventable medical errors. It's estimated that as many as 440,000 patients die in America annually because of medical errors, making preventable medical harm the third cause of death behind cancer and heart disease [source: James].

Just being a physician in the U.S. means you're already more likely to experience job burnout than any other American worker. In fact, one out of two American doctors admit to suffering at least one symptom of work-related burnout [sources: Sifferlin , Shanafelt et al.]. And if you're a front-line physician — the lead doctor responsible for a patient's care — in emergency medicine, family medicine or general internal medicine, you're at the greatest risk for burnout, compared to the slower-paced work environment of, say, a pathologist [source: Shanafelt et al.].

Author's Note: 5 Most Stressful Hospital Jobs

When you're stressed at work, it really seems to permeate your whole life, doesn't it? It impacts your physical health as well as your behavioral and psychological well-being. It can make you irritable. It can keep you up at night. And it can cause physical changes, such as high blood pressure and weight gain. In 2012, for instance, a study found more than half of nurses in the U.S. were obese, with those working long shifts and those working desk jobs most at risk of gaining weight. Job burnout is also associated with high levels of stress hormones, diabetes, disordered eating, heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and sleep disorders.

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