One of the issues increasingly discussed in relation to the healthcare workforce is burnout syndrome. The job of a medical professional is associated with several persisting stress-inducing factors and situations. They include time constraints, proficiency demands and competition, high rates of responsibility, and a lack of overall work-life balance. Healthcare specialists burnout might also be caused by witnessing the anxiety, suffering, and grief of patients and their relatives. This problem demands careful consideration as it presents a danger both for a worker’s mental health and their patients safety.
Burnout syndrome is an issue that may affect many healthcare providers at different stages of their careers. Recent studies indicate that more than half of medical professionals demonstrate at least one sign of burnout (Lyndon, 2015). This state is characterized by “emotional exhaustion (EE), depersonalization (DP), and reduced personal accomplishment (PA)” (Rodrigues et al., 2018). Due to these symptoms, medical workers concentration and motivation may suffer, reducing their abilities to demonstrate sympathy and compassion and be invested in caring for their patients. Moreover, a lack of personal accomplishment means that no matter how much effort they put into their work and what they achieve, they persistently feel that their contribution is inadequate and they need to do more (Bridgeman et al., 2018). This can lead to many negative consequences for healthcare environments, including “poor clinical decision-making and medical errors” (Bridgeman et al., 2018). Thus, medical professionals mental health needs to be addressed by their organizations as it is closely connected to customers safety and satisfaction.
However, there are other important reasons to focus on finding appropriate solutions to this problem, as burnout syndrome can also influence medical workers’ personal lives. The perceived lack of professional accomplishment may lead to dissatisfaction not only with one’s career but also with their overall existence. This may cause depression, which can only intensify if left unattended. For instance, one Austrian study has established that there are significant overlaps between burnout syndrome and major depression among physicians (Wurm et al., 2016). Studies also indicate that healthcare providers often feel reluctant to seek help as they fear that it would demonstrate their inability to appropriately take care of their patients leading to them being discredited as professionals (Bridgeman et al., 2018). This highlights the need for conducting open discussions of burnout problems among healthcare workers so as to destigmatize this issue.
It is worth noting that this problem has received much attention in light of the stress experienced by medical workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Multiple studies conducted in different countries over 2020 have revealed high burnout rates among healthcare providers (Giusti et al., 2020: Neto et al., 2020, Martínez-López et al., 2020). Although treating COVID-19 patients is the primary goal of every government and every medical facility involved in fighting the disease, it is essential to attend to the needs of nurses, doctors, and other medical specialists as well. Their mental health state is crucial to them as individuals and to them as professionals. Research suggests that there is a need for specialized psychiatric treatments and psychological counseling offered to healthcare professionals working with COVID-19 patients (Neto et al., 2020). Their state should be regularly accessed to ensure that they are capable of continuing their professional activity.
Overall, due to the variety of occupational stress factors, the healthcare workforce demonstrates high rates of burnout syndrome. This problem affects them as professionals impairing their ability to deliver adequate care and support to their patients and is likely to influence their personal lives as well. Therefore, it is one of the most crucial problems in workforce management in healthcare settings, which requires attention, research, and implementation of the appropriate measures.
Bridgeman, P. J., Bridgeman, M. B., & Barone, J. (2018). Burnout syndrome among healthcare professionals. The Bulletin of the American Society of Hospital Pharmacists, 75(3), 147-152.
Giusti, E. M., Pedroli, E., D’Aniello, G. E., Badiale, C. S., Pietrabissa, G., Manna, C., Badiale, M. S., Riva, G., Castelnuovo, G., & Molinari, E. (2020). The psychological impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on health professionals: a cross-sectional study. Frontiers in Psychology, 11. Web.
Lyndon, A. (2015). Burnout among health professionals and its effect on patient safety. Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality. Web.
Martínez-López, J. Á., Lázaro-Pérez, C., Gómez-Galán, J., & Fernández-Martínez, M. D. M. (2020). Psychological impact of COVID-19 emergency on health professionals: Burnout incidence at the most critical period in Spain. Journal of Clinical Medicine, 9(9), 3029. Web.
Neto, M. L. R., Almeida, H. G., Esmeraldo, J. D. A., Nobre, C. B., Pinheiro, W. R., de Oliveira, C. R. T., da Costa Sousa, I., Lima, O. M. M. L., Lima, N. N. R., Moreira, M. M., Lima, C. K. T., Junior, G. J., & da Silva, C. G. L. (2020). When health professionals look death in the eye: the mental health of professionals who deal daily with the 2019 coronavirus outbreak. Psychiatry Research, 288, 112972. Web.
Rodrigues, H., Cobucci, R., Oliveira, A., Cabral, J. V., Medeiros, L., Gurgel, K., Souza, T., & Gonçalves, A. K. (2018). Burnout syndrome among medical residents: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One, 13(11), e0206840. Web.
Wurm, W., Vogel, K., Holl, A., Ebner, C., Bayer, D., Mörkl, S., Szilagyi, I-S., Hotter, E., Kapfhammer, H-P., & Hofmann, P. (2016). Depression-burnout overlap in physicians. PloS one, 11(3), e0149913. Web.