It’s no secret that burnout is rampant in healthcare. Although burnout may not be as prevalent in hospitals, the epidemic of stress and exhaustion among physicians and nurses is a hot topic.
- 11% of doctors in the U.S. will experience burnout.
- 41% of nurses report job dissatisfaction.
In this post, you’ll find some background on burnout among physicians and nurses, a description of the main causes of the problem, and some suggestions that medical schools and other organizations can implement to help curb the effects of this epidemic.
What is burnout?
Burnout is a syndrome characterized by emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and loss of personal accomplishment. Although burnout is considered a condition that affects nurses, physicians, and other health care professionals, it is also common among individuals in other professions.
Burnout is a syndrome that results from chronic stress in the workplace that has not been successfully managed. It can be caused by low job satisfaction, a lack of job security, or excessive demands that are not supported by sound organizational policies and procedures. A nurse suffering from burnout may exhibit behaviors such as excessive workload, poor quality of care, dissatisfaction with patient outcomes, or diminishing commitment to their profession.
How is burnout different from stress?
Stress is a common response to work demands, and it can be managed. Burnout, on the other hand, is the emotional exhaustion that results from putting too much time into one thing.
Although burnout is not as common as stress, it affects many doctors and nurses. It can lead to sleep problems, irritability and depression.
Burnout differs from stress in that with stress, there is no end in sight; you have to manage your work day after day. In contrast, with burnout, there is no real end in sight; you work constantly without getting enough sleep or exercise or meeting with colleagues.
What causes healthcare worker burnout?
Listing some common causes of burnout among healthcare workers:
- Insufficient support: Burnout is about more than long hours at the hospital or clinic. It’s also about poor supervision, insufficient resources for patient care, and lack of emotional support from colleagues.
- Workload and administrative pressures are increasing: The number of patients with chronic conditions that require ongoing care, such as diabetes and hypertension, has increased. This requires more time from physicians and nurses, who must also learn new skills to effectively treat these patients.
- For many years, too little has been invested in public health infrastructure: Health care facilities often do not have sufficient resources to provide adequate care for all patients. For example, senior centres or home care services that care for older people with complex needs may lack geriatric-trained staff. This means that those who make house calls or care for dementia patients often have to take on additional tasks to their regular duties to keep their patients healthy and happy
Are healthcare workers at risk of burning out?
Healthcare is one of the most stressful fields to work in, and it’s not just because of all the patients you see. When it comes to burnout, there are many factors that can contribute.
Although healthcare is one of the most important and influential industries in the world, it still faces challenges. As an industry, it has to handle a variety of tasks that require long hours.
Given the current circumstances and the upcoming changes, the healthcare sector can experience severe burnout. As a healthcare worker, you are not immune to the risk of burnout.
- Physical and mental fatigue
- Low immunity, frequent illnesses
- Frequent headaches, back pain, or muscular problems (aches)
- Changes in appetite or sleep patterns
- Anxious feeling about going to work
- Anger, cynicism and irritability
- Feeling helpless, limited, and/or depressed
- Procrastination and prolonged waiting to complete tasks
How can we prevent physician and nurse burnout?
Improving communication skills, collaboration, participatory programmes, and psychological therapies were the most commonly used approaches to reduce burnout (yoga, meditation, and mindfulness). These therapies have the potential to improve mental health in the long term.
Burnout is a complex problem that must be addressed through a combination of approaches.
- Nurses are listened to. Nurses are often the first point of contact for people who complain or seek support. It is important for nurses to build positive relationships with their colleagues to identify problems early. For example, if one nurse complains about another’s poor communication skills, it can be critical to act immediately. In addition, nurses should be able to voice their own concerns about work-related difficulties without fear of being rejected or disrespected by colleagues.
- Provide feedback. Nurses should receive regular feedback from their supervisors about their performance to improve their jobs. Feedback is also requested when there is a shift change or when employees leave a particular department during an operation, so they can learn more about what is working well in other departments within the organisation.
- Assist in implementing efficient time management methods. The amount of time spent on patient care varies greatly from hospital to hospital and from department to department.
Takeaway: Healthcare workers need to take care of themselves in order to be able to continue helping others. Physician and nurse burnout is a serious problem that ultimately affects their patients’ care. Proper training, adequate staffing levels, and a bit of self-care for healthcare workers can go a long way in preventing this from happening.
Author is the bestselling book and blog writer about emerging healthcare technologies. Besides blogging he enjoys music composing, piano playing, photography and typography.