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Which Doctors Are Happiest? Healthiest?

Medscape Poll: What Doctors Are Like When the White Coat Comes Off
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

smiling doctor

March 22, 2012 -- Which doctors are happiest? Which are healthiest? How many doctors are churchgoers? How many doctors are overweight? And where do they go on vacation?

Welcome to Medscape/WebMD's 2012 Physician Lifestyle Report. It's a peek at what doctors do when the white coats come off. More than 29,000 doctors, representing 25 specialties, replied to the online poll from Jan. 12-27, 2012.

So what are doctors really like? The poll isn't scientific, but it offers interesting insights into what your doctor does outside the office, clinic, and hospital. 

The Happiest Doctors

Medscape asked doctors to rate their happiness on a five-point scale, with 5 being as happy as can be.

Rheumatologists -- specialists in arthritis, joints, muscles, and bones -- topped the list with an average self-reported happiness rating of 4.09.

They were followed closely by dermatologists (4.06), urologists (4.04), ophthalmologists (4.03), and emergency medicine doctors (4.01).

The least happy doctors are a three-way tie between neurologists, gastroenterologists, and internal medicine doctors. They rated their happiness at 3.88 -- hardly unhappy, but trailing the pack.

The next least happy docs are oncologists, general surgeons, and plastic surgeons at 3.89 on the happiness scale.

That's still pretty happy. Why? A clue comes from doctors' financial report card: 61% of those in practice say they have adequate or more than adequate savings for their stage of life, while only 7% say they are in unmanageable debt.

And it isn't all about money. More than 4 out of 5 doctors say they are religious, and more than 40% actively practice or attend religious services.

The Healthiest Doctors

When asked to rate their own health on a five-point scale, dermatologists report being the healthiest of all doctors with a 4.23 average rating.

They're followed by plastic surgeons (4.22), diabeticians/endocrinologists (4.20), orthopedists (4.19), and cardiologists (4.17).

The "least healthy doctors" -- critical care doctors -- are still pretty healthy, giving themselves as 3.98 rating.

Just above them are pediatricians (4.01), obstetricians/gynecologists (4.02), pathologists (4.02), and psychiatrists (4.02).

Doctors' Weight, Doctors' Exercise

More than 1 in 3 male doctors and over 1 in 4 female doctors say they are overweight.

And obesity isn't just a problem for patients: 5.33% of male doctors and 6.21% of female doctors admit to being obese.

This may be linked to how much time doctors find for exercise. Even when they are in their 20s, over half of doctors say they exercise less than twice a week.

By age 41 to 50, more doctors are taking their own advice, and the fraction exercising less than twice a week drops to 40%. By age 61 to 70, only 28% of doctors get this little exercise.

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