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Am I Burnt Out? Compassion Fatigue and Burnout Prevention for Healthcare Practitioners

Are You Burnt Out?

Do you feel depleted when you leave work? Do you feel like you are not making a difference? Do you feel like you have nothing left to give? If you are experiencing or have experienced these thoughts at a point in your healthcare career, you may be feeling a degree of burnout; but don’t worry, you are not alone!

In Alberta for example, 37% of physiotherapists reported a high degree of burnout. As job demands in healthcare continue to increase, physiotherapists are expected to do more with less. Especially now, as most of the world is living through the second wave of COVID-19, many of us are facing greater uncertainty and unchartered waters. Consequently, physiotherapists (and all healthcare practitioners) are becoming more at risk of burnout.

There is plenty that can be done if you are feeling burnt-out, are experiencing compassion fatigue, or would like to prevent burn-out. Embodia would like to help. If you require non-emergency assistance, we invite you to take a look at our online healthcare course, Optimize Your Wellbeing and Prevent Burnout, presented by Anna Wong, PT, MScPT, BSCH, CAPP., physiotherapist and workshop facilitator on clinician wellness and burnout prevention.


Learn How to Prevent Burnout!


Course Learning Objectives

  • Understand what is burnout and compassion fatigue.
  • Learn to recognize and understand the symptoms of burnout.
  • Understand the negative implications of burnout on the healthcare system as a whole.
  • Learn how to prevent burnout and build resilience for healthcare clinicians using evidence-based strategies.
  • Learn tips to build resilience in yourself and your clinic or organization.

What Is Compassion Fatigue and What You Can Do


What Is Burnout?

While most of us have very likely felt burnout, that does not mean that we fully understand it. Below we delineate burnout's three components:

  1. Emotional exhaustion: The feeling that emotional resources are depleted and that there is nothing left to give at a psychological level.
  2. Personalization: Negative and cynical attitudes, and dehumanized perception of others.
  3. Decreased personal accomplishment: Feeling unhappy and dissatisfied with accomplishments on the job.


Common Signs and Symptoms of Burnout in Clinicians

Although burnout is not fun for anyone, it can be considerably more determinantal to healthcare practitioners, not because we are more important than anyone else, but because our actions and mental health directly impact the lives of so many others on a day-to-day basis. Speaking specifically to clinicians, some common signs and symptoms of burnout include:

  • Exhaustion
  • Anger and irritability
  • Disruption of worldview
  • Difficulty separating work life from personal life
  • Heightened anxiety or irrational fears
  • The dread of working with certain patients
  • Avoidance of patient contact
  • Reduced ability to feel empathy
  • Loss of concern for patients


Burnout and Healthcare Delivery:

Burnout has been described as an under-recognized threat to high-quality and safe patient care. It has effects on not only the individual but also has negative consequences on the healthcare system as a whole.

Burnout is associated with:

  • Decreased quality and safety of patient care
  • Decreased patient satisfaction
  • Decreased work productivity
  • Increased job turnover
  • Increased use of sick days


The First Step in Preventing Burnout  

Stress can affect us emotionally, cognitively, physically, and alter our behaviours and how we act in relationships. The first step in the prevention of burnout is self-awareness. Self-awareness does not just magically happen; it often takes considerable personal effort. The next time you notice that you are stressed, take a moment to reflect on how it has affected you in your feelings, thoughts, behaviours, relationships, and what physical manifestations occur. Once you can identify that you are stressed and maybe on your way to becoming burnt out, it is important to act and seek support.   

Here are some common examples of how stress may affect us:







To learn more about how to prevent burnout for yourself and your clinic so that you may provide your patients with the best care possible, we invite you to join us in one of our great online physiotherapy courses, Optimize Your Wellbeing and Prevent Burnout with Anna Wong.

Anna Wong is a physiotherapist and workshop facilitator on clinician wellness and burnout prevention. Anna strives to empower clinicians with tools to optimize their well-being so that they can have thriving professional and personal lives. She is passionate about sharing evidence-based strategies backed by positive psychology and mind-body science. You can follow her on Instagram for updates on more webinars and workshops.


Learn How to Prevent Burnout!


Burnout can happen to and has likely happened to all of us at least at one point in our lives. Burnout in clinicians though can be a pretty big deal because it often affects how we treat our clients (and not in a good way either). Not only that, but burnout in clinicians can also have negative consequences for the healthcare system as a whole. For the healthcare practitioner, it is of utmost importance to maintain good mental and emotional health so that we may help keep our patients and our society healthy. For this, we must identify, combat, and heal burnout within ourselves and our clinics. 


"You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection"



Blog writer, editor: Nataliya Zlotnikov

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