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Growing clinician burnout in the U.S. is nearing public health crisis levels. Each year, 400 physicians commit suicide, a rate more than twice that of the general population. Nearly one-third of nurses are emotionally exhausted. The traditional culture of health care - characterized by hierarchy, autonomy, competition, and individualism - has created an environment that makes it difficult for physicians to ask for help or seek care when they need it. The effects of this problem extend beyond the individual health care worker - burnout has been shown to lead to impaired professionalism, high staff turnover, a decrease in patient satisfaction, and an increase in medical errors. How are we to care for others if we cannot care for ourselves? Clearly, we must do a better job of creating environments that strengthen resilience and support the well-being of clinicians and other health care workers. Dr. Kirch will present a framework outlining the domains influencing clinician well-being, including the work environment, learning environment, and personal and professional factors. He will then delve into causal factors in each of these domains, including administrative and regulatory burdens, power differentials and mistreatment, and isolation and work-life imbalance. He will also examine the positive forces at work in each domain that promote wellness, social support, and group connectedness. Finally, Dr. Kirch will review the growing national momentum behind efforts to identify and implement evidence-based solutions promoting clinician well-being and combating burnout, depression, and suicide among U.S. health care workers. While much work remains to be done to create a healthy and resilient clinician workforce, addressing this problem at a national level will make a difference in the lives of clinicians, in the cultures of our institutions, and ultimately, in the outcomes of our patients.



Publication Date



The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center


Houston, Texas

Burnout Headings

Burnout, Professional; Workplace; Work-Life Balance; Health Promotion; Leadership; Ethics/organization and administration; Healthcare Disparities; Workplace/psychology; Job Satisfaction; Organization and Administration; Decision Making; Crew Resource management, Healthcare/methods; Strategic Planning; Diversity in the workplace; Servant Leadership; Employee Morale


Processed by Jolene C. DeFranco, Student Intern, Texas Woman's University School of Library & Information Studies, Spring 2020

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