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Signs and Effects of Burnout in the Healthcare Professional

Amy M. Schlessman, PT, DPT, DHS

January 29, 2021



What are the signs of burnout and the potential effects of burnout? 


Signs of burnout include:  

  • Being cynical or critical at work
  • Dragging yourself to work and have trouble getting started
  • Being irritable or impatient with co-workers, customers, or clients
  • Lacking the energy to be consistently productive
  • Finding it hard to concentrate
  • Lacking satisfaction from your achievements
  • Feeling disillusioned about your job
  • Using food, drugs, or alcohol to feel better or to simply not feel
  • Changed sleep habits
  • Troubled by unexplained headaches, stomach or bowel problems, or other physical complaints

The potential effects of burnout on the professional if ignored or unaddressed can lead to significant consequences such as

  • Excessive stress
  • Fatique
  • Insomnia
  • Sadness, anger, or irritability
  • Alcohol or substance abuse
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Vulnerability to illnesses

Provider burnout according to studies (Reith, 2018) can also lead to 

  • Medical errors
  • Higher levels of burnout are associated with higher rates of both patient mortality and dissemination of hospital-transmitted infections
  • Burnout has been linked to dishonest clinical behaviors and a decreased sense of altruism
  • High rates of burnout correlate with lower patient satisfaction ratings
  • Greater job turnover, increased thoughts of quitting, and decreased workforce efficiency 

Burnout leads to lower levels of staff engagement, patient experience, productivity, increased risk of workplace accidents.  Lower levels of self engagement are linked with lower-quality patient care, including safety.  Burnout limits providers' empathy which is a crucial component of effective and person-centered care.  

For more information and strategies to assist with burnout check out this course:  Beating Burnout and Building Resilience: Strategies to Succeed by Amy Schlessman, PT, DPT, DHS


Reith, T. P. (2018). Burnout in United States healthcare professionals: a narrative review. Cureus, 10(12)

MayoClinic (2021). Job Burnout: How to spot it and take action.

amy m schlessman

Amy M. Schlessman, PT, DPT, DHS

Amy is an Assistant Professor in the Physical Therapy Program and a Center of Teaching Excellence Faculty Liaison at the University of Findlay. She is the Website Co-Chair and Zoom Committee Chair for the Academy of Pediatric Physical Therapy. Amy has been practicing as a school-based PT for over 18 years, focusing on health promotion and physical activity embedded into academics and interprofessional collaboration, while closely working with educators, administrators, therapists, and parents. Her research on pediatric health promotion was published in Pediatric Physical Therapy. Amy also published, “Recycle Bin Boogie: Move and Learn with Recyclables,” a physical activity book combining academic concepts with common household recyclables. She has presented regionally and nationally on a variety of topics related to health promotion, active learning, school-based therapy, and special education. 

Related Courses

Beating Burnout and Building Resilience: Strategies to Succeed
Presented by Amy M. Schlessman, PT, DPT, DHS
Recorded Webinar


Amy M. Schlessman, PT, DPT, DHS
Course: #3939Level: Introductory2 Hours
  'I liked the practical examples of appplication'   Read Reviews
Burnout among healthcare professionals is widespread. In a national survey of PTs, 29% were found to have high emotional exhaustion burnout. Burnout of healthcare professionals is detrimental to patient care and the professional. This session will provide an overview of the history of burnout, causes, signs, effects, the prevalence in healthcare workers, and strategies to prevent and reduce burnout and build resilience. This course is directly related to the practice of physical therapy and is therefore appropriate for the PT/PTA.

Supporting the LGBTQ Senior in Healthcare
Presented by Kathleen D. Weissberg, OTD, OTR/L, CMDCP, CDP, CFPS
Recorded Webinar


Kathleen D. Weissberg, OTD, OTR/L, CMDCP, CDP, CFPS
Course: #4096Level: Intermediate2 Hours
  'Excellent research backed information'   Read Reviews
This training describes the required elements for responding to the emerging needs of long term care communities to provide sensitive and respectful services to LGBT elders. The training reviews definitions related to sexual orientation and gender identity challenges experienced by LGBT older adults, and strategies for communication and policies that honor residents' rights. This course is directly related to the practice of physical therapy and is therefore appropriate for the PT and PTA.

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  'simplified, to the point and remained on topic with minimal extended/prolonged examples'   Read Reviews
An overview for healthcare professionals about Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders is provided in this course. Characteristics of the dementias, such as symptoms, progression, and how they are diagnosed, are described. Care planning strategies for improving communication with patients and families, understanding and managing behavioral challenges, and promoting independence are also discussed.

OASIS E: New Items
Presented by Cindy Krafft, PT, MS, HCS-O
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Cindy Krafft, PT, MS, HCS-O
Course: #4612Level: Intermediate2 Hours
  'Great course'   Read Reviews
The course will focus on the items that are unique to the OASIS E data collection process. Official guidance sources will be explored to ensure the accuracy of the information.

Technologies for People with Intellectual Disabilities: Preparing for the ATP Exam
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  'Great presenter nice speaking pace'   Read Reviews
This course presents a variety of commercial and assistive cognitive technologies which can be used to remediate and accommodate intellectual disabilities. The information is designed to help prepare the participant for the RESNA ATP examination.

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