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 that’s hurting patients — and healthcare leaders must step up to fix it.
NAM stated plainly for the public the staggering rates of burnout. Some 35 percent of U.S. nurses have substantial symptoms, along with 54 percent of physicians, and between 45 and 60 percent 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, 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 personal time to do so. Nathalie Martinek, PhD, wellbeing consultant for healthcare professionals, shared some tips with Florence Health earlier this year.
Above all, Dr. Martinek recommends learning to say no (especially 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 have to 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 really causing burnout for health professionals, especially those working at the bedside.
Do you agree with the National Academy of Medicine’s findings? Share your thoughts in our poll.
Taking Action Against Clinician Burnout: A Systems Approach to Professional Well-Being, National Academy of Medicine.
8 Changes to Make at Work to Prevent Burnout as a Healthcare Provider, Florence Health.