Skip to main content

Health Worker Burnout

Our health depends on the well-being of our health workforce. Let’s take care of those who are always there to care for us.

Content Warning: This page contains references to suicide.
The Health Worker Burnout advisory cover sheet, titled Addressing Health Worker Burnout, The U.S. Surgeon General's Advisory on Building a Thriving Health Workforce, 2022

Why health worker burnout matters

The realities of our health care system are driving many health workers to burnout. They are at an increased risk for mental health challenges and choosing to leave the health workforce early. They work in distressing environments that strain their physical, emotional, and psychological well-being. This will make it harder for patients to get care when they need it.

Causes of burnout

Workplace systems cause burnout among health workers. There are a range of societal, cultural, structural, and organizational factors that contribute to burnout among health workers. Some examples include: excessive workloads, administrative burdens, limited say in scheduling, and lack of organizational support.

Workforce shortages

Physician demand will continue to grow faster than supply, leading to a shortage of between 54,100 and 139,000 physicians by 2033. The most alarming gaps are expected in primary care and rural communities. (Source: The Association of American Medical Colleges, 2020)

Differential impacts on health workers

Burnout, resource shortages, and high risk for severe COVID-19 infections have unevenly impacted women and health workers of color. This is due to pre-existing inequities around social determinants of health, exacerbated by the pandemic.

Health worker burnout harms all of us

If not addressed, the health worker burnout crisis will make it harder for patients to get care when they need it, cause health costs to rise, hinder our ability to prepare for the next public health emergency, and worsen health disparities.

Health worker well-being Q&A with Dr. Murthy

A surgical mask

How can we take action?

Today, we all have a role to play in preventing health worker burnout. Together, we have the capacity—and the responsibility—to provide our health workforce with all that they need to heal and to thrive.

Ways to act based on your role

What health care organizations can do:

  1. Build a commitment to the health and safety of health workers into the fabric of health organizations.
  2. Review and revise policies to ensure health workers are not deterred from seeking appropriate care for their physical health, mental health, and/or substance use challenges.
  3. Increase access to high-quality, confidential mental health and substance use care for all health workers.
  4. Rebuild community and social connection among health workers to mitigate burnout and feelings of loneliness and isolation.
  5. Combat bias, racism, and discrimination in the workplace.
  6. Invest in health prevention and social services to address health inequities.

Ways to act based on your role

Spread the word with these shareable tools

Additional resources for

Lifeline Resources

If you are experiencing an emergency, get immediate support (available 24/7):