Orthopedic Surgeons are Quitting Medicine - Can Scribes Change their Mind?

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May 12, 2023

Orthopedic Surgeons are Quitting Medicine - Can Scribes Change their Mind?

Increasing numbers of unhappy physicians, particularly orthopedic surgeons are either quitting their practices or considering leaving soon. Sounds alarming? Well, the core of why they became an orthopedic surgeon is a simple desire - to help people reduce pain, restore function and improve quality of life. Many felt that their specialized skillset was obscured by the layers of less impressive skills. The in-sane hours they spent on charting, paperwork and billing and coding added to their already-exhausted day of patient care. Physicians, especially orthopedic surgeons are not happy with their work. What could be the main factors that cause orthopedic surgeons to quit their jobs? Read on.

Burnout among orthopedic surgeons is by far more severe as it affects both their personal lives and professional performance. As per the Medscape Physician Burnout and Depression Report for 2023 nearly 45% of orthopedic surgeons reported having one or the other symptom of burnout. Another study claims that orthopedic surgeons experience burnout at a rate of 50 to 60% when compared to general surgeons, whose burnout rates range from 30 to 40%. Another study concludes that orthopedic surgeons have a high rate of burnout, depression, and suicide among all surgical subspecialties.

2.Long hours of work and lack of family time
Orthopedic surgeons usually have a heavy workload and work extensive hours. Moreover, they spent significant amounts of time in documentation during the clinic and at the end of each clinic day. They got home late and had less time to spend with family or personal life interests. Sometimes they even took unfinished patient charts home to work on and it is here work-life balance took a hit. They weren't able to spend some quality time with family and friends or indulge in the things they love doing the most. In short, maintaining a healthy work-life balance seemed like a far-fetched dream.

3.Dealing with clunky EHRs
Did you know that 70% of the MD’s are stressed by the use of EHRs and the worst affected are the orthopedic surgeons? Orthopedic surgeons are more stressed than any other specialty with the use of EHRs. The stress of EHRs is so bad that many orthopedic physicians are contemplating quitting medicine. They feel that EHRs have more challenges than benefits. A study supports this by saying that the clerical burden brought on by EHRs is associated with significant burnout, job dissatisfaction and the intent to leave the medical practice or quit medicine, altogether.

4.Too many bureaucratic tasks
Administrative and bureaucratic tasks top the list of contributors to burnout among orthopedic surgeons. Orthopedic surgeons reported spending an average of 14 hours per week on administrative tasks. The administrative burden is one reason that orthopedic surgeon Dr. David Hubler decided to leave a private practice because he stayed late into the night just to get his charts done. Other administrative responsibilities include, dealing with insurance related documents, documenting compliance with various government regulations and much more.

5.Lack of fair compensation
According to the Medscape Physician Compensation Report 2022 only 52% of the orthopedic surgeons reported that they feel they are fairly compensated. According to the Physician Burnout & Depression Report 2023, 34% of respondents said insufficient compensation contributed to burnout. It is crucial that compensation reforms and policies formulated in the future should necessarily take into consideration the value of orthopedic surgeons and the care provided by them.

Will there be a shortage of orthopedic surgeons?

Did you know that the orthopedic surgeon shortage is impending? It is quite shocking to note, that by 2030, the specialty is expected to be down 5,050 physicians. High rates of burnout, the impact of Covid-19, increased numbers of retirements, and restrictions on medical school and residency programs are the reasons for the shortage. Adding to this problem is the aging population who will need more orthopedic care. What's more? Every year the federal government cuts reimbursements for orthopedic surgeons. Decrease in reimbursements and salary rates are yet other reasons for the impending shortage of orthopedic physicians.


Increasing numbers of unhappy orthopedic physicians are leaving their practices or considering leaving soon, surveys show. Of the above five factors that led to orthopedic surgeons either quitting their practice or medicine altogether, four can be addressed by hiring medical scribes. Yes, using an orthopedic scribe can definitely make surgeons reconsider their decision to quit their jobs. Wondering how? Well, scribes play a crucial role in significantly reducing burnout, alleviating EHR-related headaches, improving work-life balance, and reducing bureaucratic tasks like paperwork and charting.

Are you an orthopedic surgeon who works insane hours, lacks family time, feels burnt out, struggles dealing with clunky EHRs and is frustrated with the bureaucratic demands? Do you feel like on the verge of quitting your practice? Hang in there. Help is on the way. Hiring an orthopedic medical scribe from Scribe4Me can help you with your documentation requirements thereby lowering burnout rates, limiting EHR time, reducing bureaucracy and improving your work-life balance. Interested to know more about how our medical scribing service works? Get in touch with us today.

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