Welcome to guest blogger and Aspire OT instructor:
Lynn Festa, OTR, CHT, CDWF
Aspire OT is always excited to celebrate OTs, OTAs, and students who make an impact.
Lynn Festa, OTR, CHT, CDWF, combines her work as an OT with providing training and guidance to professionals in promoting wellness and resilience and limiting burnout, through private coaching and education.
The concept of burnout was first described by Herbert Freudenberger 50 years ago. Yet, it took a global pandemic to have this long-standing and significant workplace problem finally get international attention. Since 2020, there has been a 4x increase in the number of articles that address burnout in healthcare, compared to all the articles published from 1974-2020.
Until just a few years ago, burnout was considered an issue for the employee. It was a sign of weakness that they were unable to “keep up” with unrealistic and relentless demands of the healthcare system- dealing with EMR, productivity expectations, declining reimbursements, poor staffing, etc. Despite these demands made by the employer, it was not unusual for the employee to take the blame, and ultimately pay the price with their own health, both mental and physical.
Fortunately, a shift towards addressing these systemic issues caused by the workplace environment, and not the result of the overworked employee not being “good enough” is beginning to transpire. According to Maslach and Leiter, burnout has 3 presentations: overwhelming exhaustion, feelings of cynicism and detachment, and a sense of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment. When these take over, burnout happens, and everyone suffers. In healthcare, this has a negative impact on patient outcomes, productivity decreases, and qualified, caring healthcare providers leave the field, only making the overall issue worse.
There are 6 main components related to burnout described by Maslach and Leiter. They include lack of control, insufficient reward, work overload, unfairness, breakdown of communication, and a values mismatch. When both the employer and the employee take a bona-fide and honest assessment of each of these areas, and then pledge to make necessary changes, then true change can occur. By focusing on the wellbeing of its employees, and giving them the tools needed to flourish at their jobs, everyone wins, including the patients and clients we serve.
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