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Orthopedic Surgeons Are Quitting - Will The Scribe Strategy Help?

surgeon scribes

Orthopedic surgeons are facing increasing challenges that are leading many to consider leaving their practices or even medicine altogether. Doesn’t that sound alarming? Well, the reason they chose this specialty in the first place is pretty straightforward – to alleviate pain, restore function, and enhance quality of life for their patients. However, the demands of their work, particularly the administrative burdens, such as documentation, compliance, charting, and paperwork, have been taking time away from patient care, adding to their workload and pushing them to their limits. This has paved the way for low levels of professional satisfaction and high levels of burnout. Let's delve into the factors contributing to orthopedic surgeons quitting their jobs and explore how orthopedic scribes could offer a solution.

  1. Burnout: Orthopedic surgeons experience severe burnout, affecting both their personal lives and professional performance. According to the 2024 Medscape Physician Burnout and Depression Report, approximately 44% of orthopedic surgeons reported experiencing symptoms of burnout or depression. Another study indicates that orthopedic surgeons experience burnout at a rate of 30% to 40%, with residents reporting a rate as high as 50%. Administrative factors and regulatory burdens are cited as the most challenging aspects to manage. Yet another research concludes that orthopedic surgeons exhibit higher levels of burnout, depression, and even suicide risk compared to other surgical subspecialties. In light of these concerning statistics, the use of an orthopedic scribe could provide the much needed administrative support, reducing burnout and enhancing the overall well-being of orthopedic surgeons.
  2. Long Hours And Lack of Family Time: Orthopedic surgeons typically work extensive hours, often spending significant time on documentation and administrative tasks. They dedicate considerable time to documentation during clinic hours and at the end of each day. At times, they even take unfinished patient charts home to work on them. This greatly impacts their work-life balance. They aren’t able to spend quality time with family or pursue any personal interests. In short, the idea of achieving a perfect work-life balance seems like a pipe dream. However, by offloading documentation tasks to orthopedic scribes, they can reclaim valuable time, leading to a better work-life balance.
  3. Dealing With Clunky EHRs: Did you know that 70% of physicians find the use of electronic health records stressful, with orthopedic surgeons being the most affected? The stress induced by EHRs is so severe that many orthopedic physicians are considering leaving their profession altogether. They believe that EHRs present more challenges than benefits, with studies showing that the administrative workload associated with EHRs contributes significantly to burnout, job dissatisfaction, and the intent to leave the practice or quit medicine for good. The integration of an orthopedic scribe can alleviate EHR-related stress and improve job satisfaction.
  4. Bureaucratic Tasks: Bureaucratic tasks and administrative responsibilities are major contributors to burnout among orthopedic surgeons, with reports indicating they spend an average of 14 hours per week on such tasks. Dr. David Hubler, an orthopedic surgeon, even left a private practice due to the overwhelming administrative burden, often requiring him to work late into the night to complete patient charts. Other administrative responsibilities include dealing with insurance-related paperwork, ensuring compliance with government regulations, and much more. Having an orthopedic scribe could lighten the administrative load, prevent burnout and enable them to focus more on patient care activities.
  5. Lack of Fair Compensation: According to the Medscape Physician Compensation Report 2022 orthopedic surgeons feel they are not fairly compensated for their work, with only 52% reporting satisfaction with their compensation. Insufficient compensation is cited as a contributing factor to burnout by 34% of respondents in the Physician Burnout & Depression Report 2023. It is important that future compensation reforms and policies must consider the value of orthopedic surgeons and the critical care they provide.

Will There Be A Shortage Of Orthopedic Surgeons?

An impending shortage of orthopedic surgeons is a concerning trend. By 2030, the specialty is expected to be short of 5,050 physicians due to factors such as high burnout rates, the impact of Covid-19, increased retirements, and restrictions on medical school and residency programs. The aging population's growing need for orthopedic care exacerbates this problem. Additionally, federal government cuts to reimbursements and salary rates further contribute to the potential shortage of orthopedic physicians.


Surveys indicate that increasing numbers of unhappy orthopedic physicians are leaving or considering leaving their practices. Four of the five factors contributing to this trend can be addressed by hiring a scribe. Orthopedic scribes can significantly reduce burnout, alleviate EHR-related stress, improve work-life balance, and reduce bureaucratic tasks like paperwork and charting.

Are you an orthopedic surgeon struggling with long working hours, a lack of family time, burnout, frustration with EHRs, and bureaucratic demands? Are you considering leaving your practice? Don't lose hope. Physicians Angels is there to help you. Hiring our orthopedic scribe can assist with all of your documentation needs, while preventing burnout, minimizing EHR usage, reducing bureaucracy, and enhancing your work-life balance. Sounds impressive? Would you like to learn more about how our orthopedic virtual scribe service works? Contact us today!

About the author

Physicians Angels

More time for physicians to see more patients, provide better care, and live their lives. Physicians Angels provides one-of-a-kind EMR data management services to healthcare providers through our real time Virtual Scribe service.