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Is Burnout Worse for Radiologists in Canada than it is for Radiologists in the U.S.?

New research recently published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology shows us that it might be more emotionally challenging to be radiologist in Canada than in the U.S.

Physician shortages can be a major source of burnout for doctors of all specialities. Many countries grapple with physician shortages. The United States, Canada, Poland, South Korea, and Mexico have some of the lowest doctor to patient ratios, with the average being 2.32 among those nations. The New England Journal of Medicine predicts that by 2025, the U.S. will be in need of between 61,700 and 94,700 doctors.

In Canada, there are not enough radiologists to keep up with patient demand. According to the study’s researchers from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, there are approximately 6.9 radiologists per 100,000 Canadian residents, whereas that figure is 10.8 in the United States. With the advent of less expensive scanners, workloads for radiologists have increased in Canada--26 percent since 2006. However, the number of radiologists hasn’t grown in tandem. “That relative shortage of radiologists in Canada thus limits the implementation of such best practice burnout prevention strategies, potentially exacerbating the emotional exhaustion and depersonalization already present in the radiology workplace,” the authors said.

Other factors such as the widening gap between high cost of living and low wages for early-career radiologists can be a lasting source of stress. High medical school tuition and academic pressures for radiologists in research hospitals can also lead to burnout. According to U.S. standards, radiologists are recommended to spend one day a week on research and professional development. However, in Canada, radiologists dedicate four hours a week to these responsibilities.

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