Many people in New Mexico experience burnout at their jobs. For some, the answer is a vacation or a change in job duties. For physicians and other health care providers, though, the issues may run much deeper, and the results can be devastating.

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the primary characteristics of burnout are emotional and physical exhaustion. Doctors and other staff become detached and unable to meet their job demands. 

What causes health care provider burnout?

  • Poor hospital work culture and relationships between leadership and various employee groups
  • Conflict between staff roles
  • Time pressures
  • Lack of control regarding the workflow and processes
  • Predispositions of individual workers
  • The intensity of the emotional involvement the work demands

Burnout makes it difficult or impossible for providers to engage with patients and others. They lose the sense of who they are and their purpose as care providers, and they stop seeing patients as individuals. According to a 2016 study, the rates of burnout among physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners in the U.S. is high: More than half suffer from at least one of the burnout symptoms. 

However, the Harvard Global Health Institute reports that the rates of physician burnout in the U.S. have climbed much higher over the previous two years. In one survey, the rate of physician burnout hit 78 percent. Those who experience burnout are particularly susceptible to mental health conditions such as depression and linked behaviors such as alcohol and substance abuse. There is evidence that burnout symptoms are linked to medical errors.