Healthcare worker burnout at an all-time high: what health systems can do to address the issue

Covid-19 is causing burnout to spread like wildfire among healthcare workers, but stress reduction programs could be part of the solution.  Click here to speak with an account executive about evidence-based stress reduction programs for healthcare workers.

Healthcare workers’ mental health and well-being in the era of Covid-19

Occupational stress has always been a fact of life for healthcare professionals, but because of Covid-19, it is now recognized as a mental health crisis.

Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals are the true heroes of the pandemic, facing tremendous emotional exhaustion and psychological distress every day. And their heroism has taken its toll on their mental well-being.

According to US News, 60% to 75% of healthcare workers now report symptoms of exhaustion, depression, sleep disorders, and PTSD.  Some have even begun to experience suicidal ideation.

Approximately 20% of healthcare workers have quit since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, and 80% say that staffing shortages have negatively affected their ability to work safely and attend to patient needs.

All this mental distress is leading more and more health professionals to burn out, and as a result, health systems are having trouble retaining their staff.

Burnout among health professionals on the rise

In a recent poll, up to 70% of doctors, nurses, and other health staff say they have experienced burnout syndrome since the pandemic began. Job satisfaction is down, and mental health issues are up, causing members of healthcare teams to retire early, look for other types of work, or just quit altogether.

This trend can be seen clearly among nurses. The president of the American Nurses Association says healthcare systems will need to hire more than 1.2 million nurses by next year to meet the growing demand and replace those leaving.

With such a huge proportion of healthcare workers experiencing burnout, there are dire personal, institutional, and social consequences.

The costs of healthcare worker burnout to public health

Burnout impacts health workers, healthcare institutions, and the general population in different ways.

It can lead to emotional distress, extreme exhaustion, reduced professional satisfaction, and medical errors for the healthcare workforce. For institutions, it means adding personnel shortages to a litany of other challenges. And for the general public it means lower healthcare quality and potentially being exposed to unnecessary risks.

Burnout also causes a tremendous financial burden to healthcare institutions. Just a single physician leaving an organization results in 50,000 to 1,000,000 dollars in new personnel recruitment and training costs.

C-suite executives understand the gravity of the situation, and they’re looking for solutions.

Healthcare organizations seeking solutions to burnout

Healthcare institutions across the nation are working hard to address burnout and its adverse effects on public health.

Many institutions have begun addressing burnout at an organizational level to improve patient care and patient outcomes. For example, some health systems have started hiring more social workers to improve the work environment by offering psychological support and promoting wellness among their staff. And many institutions have even hired chief wellness officers to conduct systematic reviews of factors leading to employee turnover.

They are finding that burnout can most often be traced back to a single root. Stress.

For this reason, many institutions have begun offering stress management tools and self-care programs to their teams.

Healing Breaths: Addressing the root cause of burnout

Healing Breaths partners with healthcare institutions to nourish and energize healthcare professionals with self-care programs that strengthen resilience and restore a sense of purpose and community.

Their programs are designed by healthcare professionals, for healthcare professionals to reduce stress, address burnout, promote well-being, and ultimately, improve the overall quality of life.

Healing Breaths works with:
  • Healthcare Professionals – To strengthen self-compassion and build resilience through immersive experiences while earning up to 10 CE credits.
  • Healthcare Institutions – To address burnout issues, promote a culture of well-being, and build peer-to-peer connection while providing data-driven pre-post intervention measurement for efficacy.
  • Healthcare Partners such as Associations and Insurance Companies – To help promote mental health and well-being of clinicians. 

And the results have been compelling, showing statistically significant reductions in stress hormones (serum cortisol) and clinical anxiety and statistically significant increases in deep sleep, immune cell count, and overall life-satisfaction.

Working with Healing Breaths means less burnout for healthcare professionals, less turnover for institutions, and better patient outcomes.

To learn more about how Healing Breaths can help reduce burnout in your place of work, click here, or contact 628.280.6527 or