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Barbara Balik Explains the Biggest Stressors That Cause Clinician Burnout

Workload, work-life integration, and flexibility in daily work are among the factors that can exacerbate or cause clinician burnout, said Barbara Balik, EdD, MS, RN, Co-Founder, Aefina Partners; Senior Faculty, Institute of Healthcare Improvement.


What are the biggest stressors that have been identified to exacerbate or cause clinician burnout?

Burnout is long-term stress, so it’s not just something that happens overnight. It builds; it’s one of those building and building and building. So, it may start out small and then become cumulative. Some of the indicators of and contributors of clinician burnout are workloads. So, the work demands exceed the resources, the individual or the collective resources available, the control and flexibility in daily work. “Am I able to influence things so that things get better?” It’s work-life integration. “How do I handle both what I do professionally and my personal needs, interests, and commitments to family and others?” Those are some of the things that really contribute to burnout or the lack thereof. Also, the idea of, “Is there a match between my values and the organizational values?” Some people will describe a mismatch of organizational and personal values as leading to moral distress, that “I’m doing things that I don’t feel connected to, or the organization doesn’t seem to be aligned with what’s important to me.”

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