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Healthcare Burnout and How to Prevent It

Healthcare workers are integral to keeping our society healthy. They treat patients for diseases and injuries with care and compassion. They keep the world running during pandemics and medical emergencies. All of this can create long nights and exhausting and stressful shifts, leading to burnout. Healthcare burnout has led to a mass exodus of healthcare workers leaving the profession, leading to staff shortages and care shortages for patients. While we see healthcare workers as heroes, we have to remember that they are human, with their own lives and families outside of their profession in the healthcare industry. It is important that we protect our healthcare workers and do what we can to prevent burnout.

What is Healthcare Worker Burnout and what are the signs?

Healthcare worker burnout is caused by prolonged stress encountered by workers in the healthcare field. This stress is often caused by a chaotic or stressful work environment, long hours with little sleep, and traumatic situations with patients. Covid-19 exacerbated the burnout issue, seeing medical employees leaving or planning to leave the profession in record numbers. While worker burnout can be hard to spot, there are many signs to look for among your employees

  • Constant fatigue
  • Compassion fatigue
  • Resentment towards job or field of work
  • Emotional detachment
  • Loss of enjoyment for job
  • Constant work anxiety
  • Frequent unexplained illnesses

Employers should look for these signs in their healthcare employees and act to alleviate the burnout before it’s too late. 

Why is Healthcare Burnout Bad?

Not only is burnout detrimental for employees and productivity, but it is also harmful to the healthcare industry. Healthcare worker burnout causes staff shortages and causes cogs to form in the healthcare system. This can lead to poor patient care, extended wait times for patients, poor productivity, and extra stress for employees who have remained in the medical field. 

What can we do to Prevent Healthcare Worker Burnout?

While the medical field is always going to pose some stress to employees, interventions can be put into place to prevent healthcare worker burnout. These interventions work to alleviate work stress among employees and increase morale. These interventions include:

  • Encouraging employees to take vacation days regularly, while also offering vacations to healthcare employees
  • Supplying emotional support to healthcare workers (counseling, etc.)
  • Improved health benefits to encourage healthy lifestyles
  • Encouraging shorter shift times and limiting overtime for nurses
  • Facilitating effective communication between healthcare management and staff

As demand for healthcare workers increases yearly, we must remember to take care of our employees and protect them from worker burnout. With these small steps, we can encourage a positive and productive work environment within the medical field.

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