Ahhhh Burnout !!!

Professional or occupational burnout is something that I think everyone in the medical profession has experienced throughout his or her career. Burnout creates havoc on a career and maybe ends it altogether. In physical therapy or any medical profession it poses a risk to patients as well as provider.

Burnout is a syndrome characterized by a loss of enthusiasm for work (emotional exhaustion), feelings of cynicism (depersonalization), and a low sense of personal accomplishment. It may erode professionalism, influence quality of care, increase the risk for medical errors, and promote early retirement (Shanafelt 2012). Some causes of burnout in physical therapy can be …

  • Excessive workloads – high patient case load/high patient volume, long and late hours
  • Lack of resources (equipment, staffing, and time).
  • Poor work-life balance
  • Perceived high job demands
  • Poor communication among staff members
  • Lack of support
  • Loss of control
  • Frustration with patients

Physical therapists hold themselves to high professional standards and may experience a conflict between clinical realities and personal ideal. In the face of external pressures, including increasing workloads and job demands, job stress may be viewed as a personal failing (Campo 2009). Common symptoms, both physical and psychological, are …

  • Frequent Headaches
  • Gastrointestinal disturbances
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Increased incidence of illness
  • Depersonalization – a state in which an individual feels that either he himself or the outside world is unreal.
  • Emotional exhaustion – chronic state of physical and emotional depletion that results from excessive job demands and continuous hassles (Wright 1998)
  • Reduced sense of accomplishment
  • Increased cynicism toward others
  • Depression

Understanding what burnout is and that it’s something many experience, can hopefully help you identify, recover, and prevent burnout. It is important to minimize these experiences as well as length of time they last for your sanity and your patient’s care. So how can one mitigate effects of burnout, recover, and prevent? Stay tuned….

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