Doctors treating cancer patients are among the unhappiest specialists in the medical profession, according to a recent survey.
According to the 2012 Medscape Physician Lifestyle Report, oncologists averaged just a 3.89 happiness score (on a 5-1 rating scale with 5 being the best), which was tied for 20th among the 25 specialty areas.
The happiest physicians were the rheumatologists, who specialize in joints, arthritis, muscles and bones, with a 4.09 rating. Right behind them were those in dermatology (4.05), urology (4.04) and ophthalmology (4.03).
The Medscape report was one of the first designed to measure how physicians view their lives away from their work environment and whether they were different from the rest of the American population.
Most of the studies on physicians in the past have involved work satisfaction.
Of all the physicians in the survey, approximately one-third of them rated themselves as “very happy,” which was close to the national average of Americans in which 34 percent listed themselves as “very happy,” based on a 2006 Pew Report cited in the Medscape article.
Medscape based its findings on 29,025 physicians who responded from the 292,251 surveys that were sent. The survey was done in January of 2012.
Internists, Gastroenterologists Are Least Happy
For a patient with mesothelioma, a cancer with no cure, it might give a hint into the medical professionals who are treating him or her. Those in pulmonary medicine, who also are likely to see mesothelioma patients, ranked just 15th on the happiness scale with a 3.95 rating. Surgeons, which include thoracic surgeons who often are involved with mesothelioma patients, were tied with oncologists at 22nd.
The least happy physicians of all were internists, gastroenterologists and neurologists (tied at 3.88). The happiest people that a mesothelioma patient likely would see are the anesthesiologists (if they opt for surgery), who were eighth with a 4.0 rating, and the radiologists, who were tied for ninth at 3.99. Anesthesiologists and radiologists also reported taking the most vacation time among the medical professionals.
The survey dealt with a wide variety of questions to explore the lives of medical professionals away from their medicine.
Oncologists, for example, were among the most married specialists (84 percent, compared with the physician average of 81 percent) with the lowest divorce/separation rates, which was really interesting because of their low happiness ranking.
Almost one third of the oncologists reported that future retirement might be a problem because they had little or no money saved for their age and stage of their life. Their general health was reported average for a physician with 36 percent of oncologists saying they were overweight.
Of all 25 specialties, the surgeons reported the highest percentage (7.4 percent of them) as having unmanageable debt and no savings). Only 12.8 percent of all physicians responding believe their savings to be more than adequate for retirement.