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Winter 2018 - Volume 35 - Issue 2

  • Trudy Land, FACHE
  • 0748-8157
  • 2475-2797
  • 4 issues per year

From the Winter Issue 2018

Hospitals and health systems may perceive the intensifying challenges of change, uncertainty, and complexity in healthcare as opportunities. However, these challenges also may be major stressors that lead to burnout, which can result in negative performance such as poor quality and financial outcomes, low productivity, safety issues, and decreased staff morale and retention.

Any stakeholder in every healthcare organization can experience burnout. It is a serious, systemwide issue, and yet a lack of understanding and attention persists. Is burnout difficult to diagnose and measure? Are we dealing only with symptoms and not the root causes? These are questions an organization faces when dealing with significantly poor performance. But what if the leaders themselves are experiencing burnout? Organizations must employ comprehensive strategies to deal with burnout and develop resilience if they are to confront the enormous pressures of meeting the many demands of healthcare today.

The first step is to become aware that burnout exists and acknowledge its extent. Determining its systemic root causes, understanding the issues, and preventing it are the next steps. Executive leadership and culture are necessary elements for preventing burnout among clinicians and the entire team of healthcare professionals. Although caregivers have drawn the most attention because of their direct impact on quality, safety, and cost, we cannot exclude board members, who carry many responsibilities for major policy and strategy decisions. They must recognize burnout in themselves and in executive leaders. Denial is not an option because the risks are too great. Burnout requires a total organizational focus.

Developing a culture of caring and safety, designing work processes to decrease stress, eliminating factors that contribute to burnout, educating stakeholders, and providing and promoting wellness resources are key strategies to address and prevent burnout and to produce effective and positive outcomes. Burnout is a crisis and an epidemic, and the time to act is now.

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