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Addressing burnout in clinical pharmacy: What can we learn from other health care disciplines?

Written by: Krystal K. Haase Pharm.D., FCCP
Published on: Jan 5, 2021

Burnout is a growing concern across health care disciplines. Burnout is a prolonged response to persistent work‐related stressors and includes elements of exhaustion, depersonalization, and perceived ineffectiveness.

The body of literature exploring the causes and consequences of burnout has grown substantially. Rates of burnout in clinical pharmacists are similar to those reported for other health care professionals. However, many aspects of burnout have not been adequately characterized in clinical pharmacists. his manuscript outlines key findings from the literature on burnout in other health care disciplines and establishes relevant connections to clinical pharmacy.

Burnout has negative consequences related to personal well‐being and is linked to stress‐related health outcomes. Burnout is associated with increased job turnover, decreased productivity, and quality concerns, including both patient safety and satisfaction.

A variety of factors contribute to the development of burnout, including provider characteristics, practice specialization, type and quantity of work expectations, work environment, social and organizational support, and reward.

Interventions that focus on individual providers have been shown to modestly improve burnout. Interventions that emphasize organizational change may have a more significant impact, and several groups have outlined organization‐focused strategies to improve well‐being in the workplace. Such strategies include enhancing communication, promoting true collaboration and community, addressing staffing shortages, empowering employee decision‐making, and developing and promoting institutional values.

Best practices for improving well‐being within an organization include a multidisciplinary, multimodal approach that is supported by both resources and leadership engagement.