To best mitigate the effects of burnout, public health, and healthcare leaders must first understand the current severity of the crisis and its impacts. The following sections will offer some detailed insight into healthcare worker burnout, its repercussions, and what some potential solutions might look like.
What is Healthcare Burnout
“burnout is not an individual mental health diagnosis. Burnout is a workplace issue that calls for systems-oriented, organizational-level solutions.”
“a work-related stress syndrome resulting from chronic exposure to job stress…consisting of three qualitative dimensions which are emotional exhaustion, cynicism and depersonalization, reduced professional efficacy and personal accomplishment.”
The same study notes that while burnout can occur in any profession, “the incidence seems to be higher in physicians.”
The Healthcare Burnout Crisis
“There is a projected shortage of more than 3 million essential low-wage health workers in the next five years and a projected shortage of nearly 140,000 physicians by 2033.”
The Healthcare Burnout Impact
“consequences of burnout are decreased job satisfaction, absenteeism, turnover in personnel, and cynicism. These effects at work frequently have repercussions on personal life such as feeling unhappy, anxiety, depression, isolation, substance abuse, frictional and broken relationships and divorce.”
With such profound implications, it shouldn’t be surprising that so many burned-out healthcare workers are choosing to leave the health field.
“decreased time spent between provider and patient, increased medical errors and hospital-acquired infections among patients, and staffing shortages.”
Stressful and overwhelming work environments “make it harder for patients to get care when they need it.”
“approximately $4.6 billion in costs related to physician turnover and reduced clinical hours is attributable to burnout each year in the United States.”
Whether it be patient care, worker well-being, or cost, it’s clear that the repercussions of the burnout crisis are far-reaching and should be addressed as quickly as possible.
“more than half of primary care physicians report feeling stressed because of time pressures and other work conditions.”
Making institutional changes that alleviate these time constraints could help minimize these feelings of burnout.
“systemic racism, violence against Asians, and childcare crises for women in medicine have taken a tremendous toll on the mental and physical health of these minoritized groups during the pandemic. For women in medicine, there has been no respite from work, whether it’s on the front lines with COVID-19 or solving their childcare challenges.”
Developing solutions to these obstacles could help mitigate their disproportionate effects and contributions to burnout in the health field.
At AB Med, we are here to help you execute initiatives to minimize the healthcare burnout crisis facing your community. Our team of experts is ready to partner with you to develop, create, and launch programs that prioritize the well-being of both healthcare workers and the patients they are committed to caring for.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- Health Worker Burnout — Current Priorities of the U.S. Surgeon General. [online] Available at: https://www.hhs.gov/surgeongeneral/priorities/health-worker-burnout/index.html.
- De Hert, S. (2020). Burnout in healthcare workers: Prevalence, impact and preventative strategies. Local and Regional Anesthesia, [online] Volume 13(13), pp.171–183. doi:10.2147/lra.s240564.
- 2021 (2021). KFF/The Washington Post Frontline Health Care Workers Survey – Toll of the Pandemic. [online] KFF. Available at: https://www.kff.org/report-section/kff-the-washington-post-frontline-health-care-workers-survey-toll-of-the-pandemic/.
- General, O. of the S. (2022). New Surgeon General Advisory Sounds Alarm on Health Worker Burnout and Resignation. [online] HHS.gov. Available at: https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2022/05/23/new-surgeon-general-advisory-sounds-alarm-on-health-worker-burnout-and-resignation.html.
- Han, S., Shanafelt, T.D., Sinsky, C.A., Awad, K.M., Dyrbye, L.N., Fiscus, L.C., Trockel, M. and Goh, J. (2019). Estimating the Attributable Cost of Physician Burnout in the United States. Annals of Internal Medicine, 170(11), p.784. doi:10.7326/m18-1422.
- Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (2017). Physician Burnout. [online] Ahrq.gov. Available at: https://www.ahrq.gov/prevention/clinician/ahrq-works/burnout/index.html.
- Kaushik, D. (2021). Medical burnout: Breaking bad. [online] AAMC. Available at: https://www.aamc.org/news-insights/medical-burnout-breaking-bad.
By: Erik McLaughlin MD, MPH and Aikaterini Papadopoulou, B.Arch