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Helping a Co-Worker Overcome Burnout

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Have you ever suspected a friend or co-worker is suffering from burnout? I’ve worked in healthcare for a long time, and while there wasn’t always a name for it, I’ve seen my fellow caregivers suffer.

These days, people are paying more and more attention to the legitimacy of job burnout. The overwhelming physical and emotional exhaustion is very real, and can have major consequences on a person’s health, personal relationships and career. In the healthcare setting, burned-out clinicians can also impact quality of patient care, patient satisfaction and staff turnover rates.

There are many ways to tell if a colleague is pushed to the point of burnout. And while there is no single solution to eliminate their stressors, there are actions you can take to check in on their well-being.

Talk to them. It may seem obvious, but even simply showing your concern and asking if they’re OK can make an impact. Ask them if they’d like to talk about anything, but above all make sure they understand that they’re not alone. If you’re not comfortable addressing them directly, consider writing them a note or email.

Listen to them.They may not want to initially discuss their problems with you, but be prepared to really listen if they do. It may be your instinct to try to help them solve the problem right there, but listen first and then offer suggestions, and only if the opportunity arises.

Approach with compassion. Many of us – especially caregivers – can be hesitant to share our problems and ask for help when we’re in need. Your colleague may be resistant or even angry that you’ve approached them, but don’t take it personally. Keep that in mind and approach them as a friend. Let them know that they’re not alone, and that many people in their profession feel burned out or depressed at some point. Let them know that things will improve.

Tell someone. If you notice that your colleague is continuously in crisis, and especially if you suspect they may be a danger to themselves or others, alert a supervisor or close friend to the situation.

It’s important to remember that burnout does not go away overnight. It might be difficult or uncomfortable to intervene when you see a coworker struggling, but it’s the right thing to do.

To learn more about what Ochsner Health is doing to address provider burnout, visit the Office of Professional Well-Being online.

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