Burnout, a term coined by psychologist Herbert Freudenberger, “a state of mental exhaustion caused by one’s professional life.” Burnout can be experienced by anyone. However, individuals who work in an environment where their primary focus is caring for others are especially prone to the feelings of burnout. In the healthcare industry, there are a variety of reasons the care team may suffer from burnout. Working in a high stress environment with an expectation to be perfect can create a fear of making mistakes and can lead to the depersonalization of care, where clinicians are detached from their work and are simply performing standard procedures.
Overflowing hospitals on top of public opposition to masking and vaccines have been added reasons for a burnout crisis in the healthcare industry. Additionally, lack of resources during the pandemic has only made things worse for care providers already struggling to feel respect and find meaningfulness in their profession.
Organizations must combat this problem to reduce negative consequences such as decreased patient satisfaction. Poor decision making, decreased attention to detail, and less empathy are characteristic of a burned out workforce. Providers who are engaged are dedicated and more enthusiastic about their work. If more organizations create a culture of support, this can promote healthy relationships at work which leads to higher job satisfaction and improved employee mental health. Researchers studied organizational support in a physicians’ office in Portland,
Oregon and were able to develop an interventional program based on 3 “core principles” that were identified in their findings: control, order, and meaning.
Control consists of giving the care team more opportunity to make decisions. The option to set their work hours and the freedom to decide whether they want to work inpatient or outpatient appointments are ways that organizations can give clinicians more autonomy. Order is making the workflow as efficient and accommodating as possible, and making the needs of the care team a priority. Combining control and order gives the care team meaning. Better outcomes and improvements to mental health can be achieved when the care teams feel that they have purpose, and are providing meaningful care in an environment that they enjoy.
The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs describes burnout as “the shadow side of resilience.” Resilience is adapting well in the face of adversity, tragedy, and sources of stress, and knowing what really matters to the care team can foster a culture of resilience. Investing time in the care team is important to prevent burnout. If you are looking for ways to reconnect in your organization to build resilience, check out goShadow’s tools, proven methods to identify staff anf patient pain points and develop an action plan.
Veterans Affairs. (2018, August 28). Retrieved May 6, 2022, from https://www.va.gov/WHOLEHEALTHLIBRARY/tools/burnout-resilience.asp
May 6, 2022