Burnout can lead to problems with professionalism, errors, patient satisfaction, and turnover, as well as thoughts of suicide, she added.Ways to prevent burnout include setting reasonable work expectations, giving employees control, and rewarding and recognizing employees in ways that are really meaningful.
Explore This IssueFebruary 2014
Dr. Couch’s approach involves building a sense of community in the workplace and a culture of fairness that includes trust, respect, and good communication. Mentorship can be particularly valuable, she said. “Sometimes it seems that no one cares. If you had even one person looking out for you, one person who’s sponsoring you or mentoring you, that might make a huge difference. And I believe it does.”
Having employees feel they can report serious problems related to burnout is important, but it’s also important to know when to report and when not to, and that might not always be easy to determine. “I think you have to have systems that allow for you to have good conversations, that allow for you not to have conflicts, and allow for you to not be reported,” she said. “As I look back on my career if I had reported everything I saw and didn’t have a lot of important conversations off the record, I think that would have actually harmed somebody who really was going through a rough time.”
There is no choice but to report egregious behavior, but, she added, “this is a difficult subject.”