What is Clinician Burnout?

Burnout is a syndrome characterized by a high degree of emotional exhaustion and depersonalization (i.e. cynicism) and a low sense of personal accomplishment at work. Burnout is nearly twice as prevalent among physicians as compared to US workers in other fields and US nurses report similarly high levels of burnout and emotional exhaustion. Medical trainees also experience a high prevalence of burnout and depression as compared to rates of age-similar individuals pursuing other careers.

Clinician burnout can have serious, wide-ranging consequences, from reduced job performance to—in the most extreme cases—medical error and clinician suicide. The ramifications of clinician burnout also extend to patients in measureable ways. One study involving US surgeons found burnout to be an independent predictor of reporting a recent major medical error and average burnout levels among hospital nurses are independent predictors of health care-associated infection.

Combating clinician burnout requires sustained attention and action at the organizational, state, and national levels. Leadership is instrumental in improving the environments within which clinicians practice.  Leaders in medicine around the country have a responsibility to build a culture that supports clinician well-being by developing and implementing programs that address the drivers of burnout and providing resources to promote resilience and self-care.

Factors Affecting Clinician Well-Being and Resilience

The Conceptual Model working group of the Action Collaborative set out to create a model that could be used by individuals and organizations to understand the causes and effects of burnout, identify strategies to prevent and treat burnout and promote well-being, and improve health care delivery and patient outcomes. The model below depicts the domains and factors associated with burnout and well-being, and applies them across all health care professions and career stages, including that of the student, and clearly identifies the link between clinician well-being and outcomes for clinicians, patients, and the health system.

Click to expand.

Download PDF of Conceptual Model

About the Knowledge Hub

This website is a product of the Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-Being and Resilience and is intended to provide an easy-to-navigate repository of helpful resources for those seeking information and guidance on how to combat clinician burnout in their organizations and in their personal lives. Please note that the resource center found within this site is a work in progress. Resources will be added on an ongoing basis.

About the Action Collaborative

The National Academy of Medicine’s Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-Being and Resilience is a network of more than 50 organizations committed to reversing trends in clinician burnout. Goals for the Action Collaborative include: (1) Improve baseline understanding of challenges to clinician well-being; (2) Raise the visibility of clinician stress and burnout; and (3) Elevate evidence-based, multidisciplinary solutions that will improve patient care by caring for the caregiver.

Learn more about the Action Collaborative


Attend a Meeting

The Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-Being and Resilience will host approximately two meetings a year. Portions of these meetings are available to the public.

Express Clinician Well-Being

Recently, the Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-Being and Resilience called upon artists of all skills and abilities to explore what clinician burnout, clinician well-being, and clinician resilience looks, feels, and sounds like to people across the country. We received over 350 submissions. Thirty submissions will be selected to appear in a pop-up gallery in Washington, DC in May 2018. Artists will be notified in late March 2018. Additionally, a digital gallery with 100 selected pieces will be released in May 2018.

The well-being of our clinicians impacts everyone. This art show will promote greater awareness and understanding of barriers to clinician well-being—and solutions that promise a brighter future.

Learn more

Network Organizations

If your organization has already undertaken or is committed to action to reverse clinician burnout and improve clinician well-being, we invite you to join our national movement as a Network Organization by submitting a formal organizational commitment statement. By becoming a Network Organization, you are joining a growing network of over 100 organizations that are committed to reversing trends in clinician burnout—a goal that is possible only through the collective action of many stakeholders. Network organizations agree to make a visible commitment to improving the well-being of clinicians. They are active contributors to the work of the Action Collaborative but are not formal sponsors.

Learn more about Network Organizations