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Identifying and Reducing Burnout among Healthcare Professionals

Stress Bomb Represents Exploding Explode And TensionIn a field where caring for others is a priority, sometimes personal health can be side-lined for healthcare professionals. Feelings of fatigue, isolation, loss of motivation, and sense of failure could mean much more than a bad day — you could be experiencing burnout. Burnout, defined as a state of mental and physical exhaustion caused by stress, is rampant in the healthcare field, and is recognized as one of the leading causes for nursing shortages in America.1

What causes burnout?
A variety of factors play into burnout among healthcare professionals, many of which are non-modifiable such as gender, socio-demographic variables, personality, and age2; however, the top cited reason for burnout is work overload.3 When a person works in a high stress field such as healthcare they are exposed to emotionally draining experiences all the time so the added pressure of working while the hospital is understaffed only piles on to that stress. Many studies within hospitals have found a direct link between reducing workload and reduced burnout among healthcare professionalswhich led to a significant drop in patient deaths.5

It is impossible to expect for us as healthcare professionals to do the work of two or three people and still give the same quality care to a patient as usual. Burnout only leads to mediocre patient care and a poor work environment, which continue the vicious circle to only cause more burnout. and Medical institutions across the world have attempted to provide both preventive and curative care for healthcare workers who are at risk for experiencing burnout; however, many of these attempts were unsuccessful and do not address the underlying problem: overworked staff.

Am I at a higher risk for burnout? If you are…

  • A male.
    You are at a higher risk for developing depersonalization, which is a direct indicator for burnout.6,7
  • Under the age of 30.
    Younger healthcare professionals with less experience usually handle stress worse compared to older, more experienced peers.
  • A “Type-D” personality.
    People with Type-D personalities are those who experience a wide arrange of negative emotions but suppress said emotions in social situations to avoid judgment. They are 5 times more likely to develop burnout.8
  • Living in a rural area.
    Those living in more isolated areas experience a higher rate of burnout in the healthcare field compared to those living in highly populated areas.9

What you can do:
While you can’t change the amount of work you need to complete today, you can follow some of the following tips to help reduce your chance of developing burnout or combat burnout you already experience.

  • Be aware of how you are feeling each day.
    While everyone has bad days, if you have been having a bad day for the last two weeks something is wrong. Go talk to a trusted friend or see a therapist to try to sort through some of the feelings you have been having so you can get back to being the best you possible.
  • Talk it out with a co-worker if you feel overwhelmed.
    Interacting with another person who can identify with what you are going through can be very beneficial. Emotional support from peers at work is essential to combat burnout.
  • Take time to care for yourself. 
    Whether it’s during a 15-minute break or an hour before bed, do something that you find enjoyable and relaxing. Taking a little time out of each day for “me-time” may seem difficult to do but the benefits are definitely worth it.
  • Join a support group.
    Various methods such as mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) combined with other types of therapy such as group therapy can reduce burnout significantly.

Taking the time to care for your needs will only help you in the long run, both for yourself and for those you care for at work.

References:

  1. Toh, S. G., Ang, E., & Devi, M. K. (2012). Systematic review on the relationship between the nursing shortage and job satisfaction, stress and burnout levels among nurses in oncology/hematology settings. International Journal of Evidence-Based Healthcare, 10(2), 126-141. doi:10.1111/j.1744-1609.2012.00271.x
  2. Garrosa, E., Moreno-Jiménez, B., Liang, Y., & González, J. (2008). The relationship between socio-demographic variables, job stressors, burnout, and hardy personality in nurses: An exploratory study. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 45(3), 418-427. doi:10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2006.09.003
  3. Toh, S. G., Ang, E., & Devi, M. K. (2012). Systematic review on the relationship between the nursing shortage and job satisfaction, stress and burnout levels among nurses in oncology/hematology settings. International Journal of Evidence-Based Healthcare, 10(2), 126-141. doi:10.1111/j.1744-1609.2012.00271.x
  4. Weigl, M., Stab, N., Herms, I., Angerer, P., Hacker, W., & Glaser, J. (2016). The associations of supervisor support and work overload with burnout and depression: a cross-sectional study in two nursing settings. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 72(8), 1774-1788. doi:10.1111/jan.12948
  5. Aiken, L. H., Sloane, D., Cimiotti, J., Clarke, S., Flynn, L., Seago, J., . . . Smith, H. (2010). Implications of the California nurse staffing mandate for other states. Health Services Research, 45(4), 904-921. doi:10.1111/j.1475-6773.2010.01114.x
  6. Singh, C., Cross, W., & Jackson, D. (2015). Staff burnout –a comparative study of metropolitan and rural mental health nurses within Australia. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 36(7), 528-537. doi:10.3109/01612840.2014.996838
  7. Fuente, G., Vargas, C., Luis, C., García, I., Cañadas, G., & Fuente, E. (2015). Risk factors and prevalence of burnout syndrome in the nursing profession. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 52(1), 240-249. doi:10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2014.07.001
  8. Geuens, N., Braspenning, M., Bogaert, P., & Franck, E. (2015). Individual vulnerability to burnout in nurses: The role of Type D personality within different nursing specialty areas. Burnout Research, 2(2-3), 80-86. doi:10.1016/j.burn.2015.05.003
  9. Breen, M., & Sweeney, J. (2013). Burnout: the experiences of nurses who work in inner city areas. Mental Health Practice, 17(2), 12-20.
Identifying and Reducing Burnout among Healthcare Professionals


Rachel Wagner

Rachel Wagner is a sophomore nursing student at York College of Pennsylvania.

APA Reference
Wagner, R. (2018). Identifying and Reducing Burnout among Healthcare Professionals. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 14, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/lib/identifying-and-reducing-burnout-among-healthcare-professionals/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Oct 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Oct 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.