Physician burnout is on the rise

If you've ever worried that your doctor seems burned out on the job, you may be right. Physicians are busier than ever, and hospitals are worried that as their staff gets overwhelmed, the quality of care goes down and medical errors go up.

Amanda North is a busy doctor at Montefiore Hospital in New York City. She's also the mother of three. Shortly after the birth of her youngest child, she found herself exhausted and overwhelmed.

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Dr. Amanda North

CBS News

"I was stressed 100 percent of the time," she told CBS News. "All I could think about was how much I wasn't getting done. All the things I was failing to do rather than focusing on the things I was achieving."

Just a year into her practice, she was seeing as many as 50 patients per day — and suffering from physician burnout.

A study at the Mayo Clinic found that more than half of American doctors have been in the same boat — exhausted and losing their sense of purpose.

Dr. Brenda Boatswain is a coordinator at Montefiore's wellness department, which offers services to overwhelmed physicians.

"Stress management skills, mindfulness skills, relaxation and then returning to a sense of balance" are some of the techniques the program teaches, she said. The goal is to help them be "aware of what they need to find joy and balance in their lives."

Hospital staff members are encouraged to drop in for meditation classes or individual counseling to reduce stress.

Dr. North recently published a review article on burnout in surgeons in the journal Urology Practice. After analyzing existing medical literature, she found burnout is more common among female doctors than male, with many citing work/home conflicts as a major source of stress.

In her own practice, Dr. North says she's developed a fuller life outside of the hospital with the help of exercise and community, so when she's at work, she's all in.