Today in the chart

The Most Common Causes of Burnout

Clinician burnout is a pervasive problem that’s hurting patients — and healthcare leaders must step up to fix it. And, here's where they can start.

A recent report from the National Academy of Medicine got the general public buzzing last week about something health professionals have known for years: Clinician burnout is a pervasive problem hurting patients — and healthcare leaders must step up to fix it.

NAM stated plainly for the public the staggering rates of burnout. Some 35% of US nurses have substantial symptoms, along with 54% of physicians and between 45 and 60% of medical students and residents. And based on a review of existing research conducted by a committee of relevant experts, the report also highlighted some of the driving institutional causes.

With regard to on-the-job demands, the top causes were:

  • Excessive workload, unmanageable schedules, and understaffing
  • Burdensome administrative tasks, often relating to health information technology
  • Workflow interruptions and distractions
  • Inadequate technology usability
  • Time pressures and lack of personal time
  • Moral distress
  • Patient factors

When looking at overall workplace factors, the top causes were:

  • Lack of meaning and purpose in work
  • Problematic culture
  • Lack of alignment of values and expectations
  • Lack of job control, flexibility, and autonomy
  • Minimal reward system
  • Minimal social and professional support
  • Struggles with work-life balance

There is good news. Many of these factors you can address on your own, and you don’t even have to cut into your time to do so. Nathalie Martinek, Ph.D., well-being consultant for healthcare professionals, recommends learning to say no (incredibly challenging for most healers), debriefing after particularly tough shifts with a trusted coworker, and repurposing moments when you’re alone at work to be more reflective. For example, you must wash your hands dozens of times a day — use this time to think positive affirmations.

Sadly, most other factors, such as scheduling and EHR inefficiencies, require leadership to step in. But to do so, they need to consider what’s causing burnout for health professionals, especially those working at the bedside.

Subscribe to our M-F newsletter
Thank you for subscribing! Welcome to The Nursing Beat!
Please enter your email address