Burnout is a serious issue that is impacting healthcare professionals across the country and even the world. Those hit the hardest by burnout are those who deal not just with stressful days and full workloads but also with compassion fatigue. Caring for others that are sick, distressed, and scared takes its toll. If it isn’t the patient, it is the family.
The pandemic has caused burnout and compassion fatigue to reach all-time highs, and many healthcare workers are quitting because of it. If you are someone who has recently found themselves burnout out in their current role, know that there are options. You can still help others and provide essential care (directly or indirectly), but something needs to change. With this guide, you’ll be able to better recognize burnout and know how to conduct yourself after the fallout.
What is Burnout?
Burnout is a unique form of exhaustion that goes beyond how tired you are. It is often caused by chronic and incessant stress either physically, mentally, or emotionally. While office workers with heavy caseloads or who are forcing themselves to work in a role that they don’t enjoy can also burn out, those who are in compassion roles are often hit the hardest.
This means that nurses experience burnout far more often than physicians do, as they are the one’s front and center of care rather than medicine. Regardless of what your current position is, addressing the source of your stress and making key changes is essential to moving past burnout and leading a better, healthier life.
Burnout in Healthcare
Burnout has always been high in healthcare. The 2020 Medscape National Physician Burnout and Suicide Report currently estimate that the burnout amongst physicians is around 43%. On average, burnout rates hover around 40 to 45% for both nurses and physicians.
Residents and medical students often report the highest burnout rates, with an average of 69% feeling burnt out, and that figure is going as high as 78% for surgical residents.
There are many reasons for this burnout. From too many admin tasks that take their time away from medicine and care, to long work weeks (physicians average around 51 hours per week), to compassion fatigue, there are numerous issues plaguing healthcare workers today. Those issues were compounded and worsened during the pandemic and still continue to this day.
What to do if You Have Been Burned Out
There are a few options. If you still want to continue doing what you currently are trained and certified to do, then relocating to a smaller or quieter location can be a perfect choice. If you find yourself panicking at the thought of going back to caring for patients, or find yourself uninterested or outright mentally refusing to go back to your current job, then there are new ways forward for you.
If you have burnt out as a nurse and are ready to get out of the industry entirely, take a moment. There are many excellent careers within healthcare that don’t require you to work with patients, doctors, or families. Healthcare administration, for example, allows you to make a huge impact and difference for patients throughout the hospital or clinic without working directly with the patients in question.
Healthcare administration is an excellent career option because it is well paid, has consistent hours, and it also allows you to work where you want. With an estimated 32% growth rate by the end of the decade and around 50,000 new jobs being added every year, there has never been a better time to get started with healthcare administration.
You will want to enroll in an online healthcare management degree first. Your experience working in healthcare will play a huge part in preparing you for this new direction in your career, but you will still be using new skills that you will need to be trained in.
The good news is that the DHA is fast and entirely online, so you can quickly get through the credits and even transfer over any relevant credits from your existing education to speed up the process.
Moving into a supportive role like this can be the perfect option when you want out of nursing entirely but still have that innate desire to help others. By working alongside healthcare professionals, you can make a big difference while better supporting yourself and your mental health.
You can also take your nursing or other healthcare credentials out of healthcare. You can work as a nurse in a research setting or in policy-making. You can provide your services on a one-to-one basis with private clients. There are so many options, but you need to be prepared to make a change to move on from that burnout and get started with a new, better way forward.