Burnout in the Medical Community

Christy Brewer, CRNA
Published on May 17, 2020. Updated on Oct 9, 2020.

This month, Osmosis is partnering with Thrive Global to raise awareness about the importance of mental health and taking steps to avoid burnout. In today's blog, Christy Brewer, CRNA, shares advice on how to help or prevent burnout before it becomes a major issue.

Burnout in any industry is something more and more people are beginning to notice. And in the medical community—where sleepless nights and stressful days abound—burnout is an issue far too many medical and healthcare professionals are familiar with.

But coming to your wit’s end isn’t something that just affects you—it also affects the people around you. And in a career field where you have to think of coworkers and patients, the effects of burnout can have some pretty big consequences.

First, what is burnout?

Burnout shouldn’t be confused with the normal stresses of day to day life. It’s normal to get stressed from time to time, especially in your career. Work piles up, deadlines, difficult patients, and sleepless nights all contribute to this. But burnout is something much more pervasive and destructive than the stress of daily demands. Burnout looks like:

  1. A constant dissatisfaction with one’s job and performance
  2. Ongoing depression that follows you outside of work
  3. A feeling of worthlessness and constant worry

While the above mentioned list sounds pretty daunting and scary, it’s important to note that, as with everything, there’s always a way out, and there are actually some tangible things we can implement to help us along this journey and out of the rut of burnout.

Ways to help/prevent

1. Review your performance and speak with leadership.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and dissatisfied, it may have some tangible solutions. Do you need to get more organized? Maybe you need to speak to leadership about current workload or patient size? Often, deeply rooted issues can have simple fixes, it’s just about getting to the heart of the issue.

2. Take some time away.

It’s often amazing to people just how beneficial it can be to take some time away. Vacations and sick days are there for a reason, and if you’re not taking them, it’s likely you’re not giving yourself a fighting chance. I know this is tricky within the medical community, but it’s still possible, and something that should be prioritized.

3. Practice mindfulness and quiet time.

Sometimes, our worry comes from a place within ourselves and translates into our work performance, and sometimes it’s the other way around. Regardless, taking the time to return to the center and connecting with yourself and the people around you is extremely important. Take some time to pray, reach out to a friend, and ask for help when you need it!

While this is far from an exhaustive list, I do hope it brings some awareness to the importance of addressing burnout and some of the steps we, as medical professionals, can implement to help us out of the rut.

About Christy

Christy Brewer, CRNA is a Nurse Anesthetist located in Somerset, KY. She authored and published "Attitudes on the Use of Music During Anesthesia Administration," which highlights the non-pharmacological practice of soothing patients with music, which was popular prior to the advent of anesthesia. Additionally, Christy Brewer CRNA dedicates much of her time to training up-and-coming registered nurse anesthetists, physician residents, and medical students. To glean further insight into Christy Brewer's background, book, and interests, be sure to visit her website!


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