Dear Friend,

Burnout. More and more, I am seeing colleagues, friends, and my patients fraying at the edges. Some are on the edge of burnout and some are already there.

More than a year after COVID-19 first entered our vocabulary, we are still seeing its effects in ways we might not have predicted. Women are leaving the workforce in drovesi, one-fifth of healthcare employees are at risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)ii, life expectancy dropped a full year in just the past yeariii, and mental health challenges are at an all-time highiv.

What’s unique about this virus in comparison to others is that even those who did not get the virus themselves were impacted due to disruptions in work, school, ability to access health care, and mandated social isolation. What this means is that we ALL need to pay attention to the problem of burnout whether we had the virus or not.

I recently spoke with Bryant Adibe, MD, who served as the System Vice President and Chief Wellness Officer for Rush University System for Health, an organization that at one time treated 25% of all critically-ill COVID-19 patients in the state of Illinois. Within the pandemic tragedy, he worked to help his organization use the time as an opportunity to shine a light on the importance of employee wellbeing for the long haul.

Learn more about burnout culture and solutions in our newest blog post: A Move from Burnout Culture to Wellness Culture.

Be well.

Dr. Wayne Jonas

i Matuson, Roberta. How to Stop the Mass Exodus of Women Leaving the Work Force, Healio, 1 Mar. 2021

ii Rodriguez, Robert, et al. Symptoms of Anxiety, Burnout, and PTSD and the Mitigation Effect of Serologic Testing in Emergency Department Personnel During the COVID-19 Pandemic, Annals of Emergency Medicine Feb 4, 2021

iii Miller, Janel. CDC: US Life Expectancy Drops 1 Year during Pandemic, Healio, 18 Feb. 2021

iv Spotlight 2021 - Covid-19 and Mental Health: A Growing Crisis, Mental Health America, 20 Oct. 2020

Culture Check
Culture Check

Which of these statements do you agree with for your work?

Question 1:
A. I demonstrate my commitment by being available at all hours.
B. I demonstrate my commitment by limiting access and prioritizing my recovery time.

Question 2:
A. I give everything I have to my job, every day.
B. I give my best to my job every day, but also leave something for my family and for myself.

Question 3:
A. My work defines my identity.
B. My work is only one part of who I am as a person.

Which statements did you check more of: As or Bs?

If you answered mostly As, those are a sign of a burnout culture. Dr. Adibe notes that they are usually stated admirably and as good qualities, but they can lead to the problem of burnout.

Learn more about a shift to a wellness culture.

What Does Burnout Look Like?
What Does Burnout Look Like?

Burnout can be tricky to spot if your head is down and you're just trying to get by day to day. That's why it's important to take a step back and know what the signs are of burnout and look inside yourself to see if you are experiencing any of these feelings or emotions.

Behavioral signs: poor sleep, apathy, feeling isolated, being overly reactive, or tearful.

Emotional signs: constant anxiety, fear, sadness, and irritability or anger.

Cognitive signs: difficulty concentrating and over-analysis of events.

Physical signs: pain and fatigue.

Explore how to help yourself and others with my article: Five Steps to Avoid Burnout.

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