Feel the burn … out

Oct. 28, 2019

There’s a lot of chatter and ink about burnout lately.

Doctors, nurses, CEOs, other executives, millennials, etc.

Remember when the term burnout referred to the tires on your car and not being tired before or after you enter your car?

Unfortunately, we have yet to see any prose related to burnout in other pressure-cooker positions, such as infection prevention, sterile processing and supply chain.

One wonders if there is none (you know the old saw … if there’s no visual proof, it didn’t happen), or these folks prefer to preserve their dignity rather than complain to and through the media – social and traditional.

Perhaps these pundits, however, are confused because they may equate burnout with stress. They’re not necessarily synonyms.

Stress is continual; burnout is the result.

Stress can lead to ongoing health problems and either erroneous or genius creations; burnout tends to be the residue left from stress, running on fumes.

Stress causes and drives behavioral, emotional, mental and physical responses; burnout represents the exhaustion, disappointment, despair and cynicism after a long, overdrawn excursion.

The Thanksgiving holiday approaches, which tends to generate scores of stress, ending with plenty of burnout (some of which may be infused by tryptophan ingestion), but just in time for Black Friday sales! And the circle of cycles repeats!

It’s easy to understand how infection preventionists and sterile processing and supply chain professionals can succumb to burnout after enduring a heaping of stress-related activities and demands. The list seems onerous and ominous: Antibiotic resistance and multidrug-resistant pathogens; the random and immediate threat of some crisis, disaster or outbreak; clinicians, financial administrators and administrative executives with budgetary and product and service availability complaints and pressures.

As the current year winds down to thoughts of finished projects and family gatherings, we should approach the year 2020 with a mindset of hope, freshness and energy. After all, it’s not just a new year; it’s a year with four digits that signify clarity of vision, represent (albeit stereotypically) “the future,” and provides a clean slate for us to ascend to new heights, push for new depths and strive for the greatness that percolates and simmers in all of us.

Healthcare Purchasing News readers represent the heart and soul of healthcare operations and patient care even as the clinicians represent the brains and the brawn. Working together achieves mutually-determined aims and goals, generates successful outcomes (remember that even unsuccessful ones teach us something) and produces a first-moving, top-rate performance wrapped in quality.

When we forget or misplace the mission and vision, we burn out. Let’s not douse the flame.

About the Author

Rick Dana Barlow | Senior Editor

Rick Dana Barlow is Senior Editor for Healthcare Purchasing News, an Endeavor Business Media publication. He can be reached at [email protected].