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Authors

  1. Kelly, Lesly PhD, RN, FAAN

Abstract

Burnout and compassion fatigue describe the state of health care professionals' extended stress, emotional states, and prolonged duress after events. In the past few decades, burnout and compassion fatigue have received increased focus and attention. This article summarizes the evolution in moving from viewing burnout as an individual's problem to understanding burnout as an occupational phenomenon, additionally recognizing the powerful role secondary trauma contributes to compassion fatigue. As such, the causes and addressing the solutions of burnout are multifaceted and complex. Causes of burnout stem from external pressure of caring for patients and pressure from organizational policy and practices, including unhealthy work environments, poor communication, stigma, and more. The harm from burnout and secondary trauma in health care professionals can be profound, impacting a significant portion of the workforce and manifesting in real suffering, including depression, emotional trauma, and suicide. As health care professionals are daily at risk, the need to recognize, address, and treat burnout is a priority. Both personal resilience building activities for effective stress reduction in clinicians and system-level solutions to address root causes must be utilized to address burnout.