Little national data are available on Chinese physicians’ welfare, wellness, and job satisfaction. We conducted a self-administered smartphone-based national survey in early 2016 of 17 945 physicians from 136 tertiary hospitals across 31 provinces in China. In addition to collecting the physicians’ basic information, we also measured 5 domains (the ethical and working environments, welfare, wellness, and job satisfaction). Half of the physicians reported a hospital-based annual income of less than RMB 72 000 ($10 300), and 60.31% of them did not think that the current medical pricing system reflects physicians’ value. More than half (58.64%) of them did not have or did not know about medical malpractice insurance. These physicians worked long hours (an average of 10 h) and slept short hours (average 6 h). Only 35.78% of them thought that they were in good health, and 51.03% were in good mental health. Approximately, a quarter of them had helped to pay medical bills for patients who could not afford care, and 1 in 7 has been penalised for seeing patients who generated bad debts. Only 33.42% of them thought that their occupation receives social recognition and respect, and 70.98% would not encourage their children to pursue a medical career. The top 3 factors that may influence physician job satisfaction as chosen by the physicians were as follows: (1) the income distribution policy (45.92%), (2) working environment safety (25.86%), and (3) public trust and respect for their job (16.10%). In conclusion, we found that Chinese physicians bear heavy physical, mental, and financial stress, and many of them lack confidence that they receive trust and respect from society.