Are Hispanic, Black, and Asian Physicians Truly Less Burned out Than White Physicians? Individual and Institutional Considerations

Joel C. Cantor, Dawne M. Mouzon

Publication Date: 08/07/2020

Garcia and colleagues1 delve into an understudied but vitally important physician workforce concern: professional burnout. Their work draws on a national survey of physicians with a sample large enough to examine differences in important metrics by race/ethnicity. Given the long-standing struggle to improve the diversity of the medical profession, examining the extent of burnout among physicians of minority racial/ethnic groups is imperative.

As Garcia and colleagues1 note, their findings may be counterintuitive to some. Multivariable models adjusting for specialty, workload, practice setting, age, and sex show that physicians in minority racial/ethnic groups (ie, Hispanic/Latinx, non-Hispanic Black, and non-Hispanic Asian physicians) had considerably lower rates of burnout than their White counterparts. Given the literature on experiences of discrimination and career pressures among Hispanic/Latinx, Black, and Asian physicians,2 one might expect more, not less, burnout. How can this be?

We need first to consider the possibility that this result may not truly reflect better practice circumstances or more resilient personal characteristics of these physicians. Although the data used by Garcia and colleagues1 have strength in their national scope and detailed measures, the sample sizes are not large enough to enable full disentangling of the association between race/ethnicity and burnout…