Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

How Health Care Providers Can Mitigate Burnout

Image of U.S. Army Soldiers load a simulated patient on to a New Jersey National Guard UH-60L Black Hawk helicopter during a combat lifesaver course run by the Medical Simulation Training Center on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, April 14, 2022.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht). U.S. Army Soldiers load a simulated patient on to a New Jersey National Guard UH-60L Black Hawk helicopter during a combat lifesaver course run by the Medical Simulation Training Center on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, April 14, 2022. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht)

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Health Readiness & Combat Support

When the demands of the mission mount up, all military service members can be at risk of burnout.

Turning to health care providers for help is a good option.

But what about the health care providers themselves?

Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, the men and women who run the military health system have faced an enormous workload, with seemingly no end in sight. That can put health care professionals at significant risk.

"No one is immune to burnout," stated Air Force Reserve psychologist Lt. Col. Jennifer Gillette.

"Healthcare providers are very good at rescuing others. We train for it and practice it daily. Unfortunately, we often do so at the expense of our own health and wellness," said Gillette, who serves in support of the Air Force director of psychological health at the Air Force Medical Readiness Agency.

Key symptoms of burnout among health care providers include feeling tired and fatigued as well as headaches, muscle tension, and stomach distress. Gillette said burnout can also lead to poor sleep, over-eating, or heavy drinking.

Lesser-known symptoms include emotional disconnection or feeling detached from peers or coworkers. Becoming insensitive, sarcastic, or cynical can also be a sign of burnout, leading to a lack of empathy towards patients or feelings of personal incompetence.

Overall, it can significantly impact patient care, productivity, and organizational success. For military health care professionals, taking care of yourself is a key part of the mission.

"We must take care of ourselves if we want to prevent it. For example, we can't expect our cars to keep running if we don't fill them up with gas and take them in for regular maintenance."

"If we just keep driving without taking care of our cars or ourselves, we will find ourselves broken down on the side of the road calling for help," she said.

Seeking Help

A key step to addressing burnout is simply to reach out.

"We want to make sure that we're looking for social support," said Lt. Col. Catherine Callendar, deputy director of psychological health for the Air Force. "That may sound very simplistic, but the reality is, there's so much research that tells us when we talk to somebody that we feel is supportive of us, there are positive neurochemical changes that take place in the brain."

"And we really do feel better for very tangible reasons. So, seeking social support, and talking to friends, and family really can prove very beneficial to us."

Gillette says one of the keys to prevention is self-awareness.

"Practicing mindfulness can help us learn to tune into ourselves more, takes us off autopilot, and helps us become more aware of the present moment," Gillette said.

Some of her other suggestions:

  • Self-care practices like exercise, yoga and sleeping at least seven hours a night
  • Create (and stick to) a morning routine
  • Remind yourself of the value and purpose in your work
  • Make sure you maintain some work-life balance
  • Go for a walk or a nature hike
  • Take time away from all digital devices

All service members, especially health care providers, should take time to support their colleagues and, when needed, seek that support.

"When I ask active duty members about their time in the military, they often say the best part about their service is the amazing friends they've met over the years. When I ask veterans what they miss, they say the camaraderie and the brotherhood. People want to feel a sense a belongingness. If going to work is where your tribe is and where you feel supported, included, and valued, you'll enjoy going to work," Gillette said.

Gillette describes positive coping strategies as a sort of "psychological first aid kit."

"Most of us have a medical first aid kit that has band-aids and a variety of medicinal aids in it. But how many of us have a psychological first aid kit when we sustain an emotional injury?"

"This kit could include a reminder to call a friend who makes you laugh or to go out for a run at your favorite park. It could have some motivational speakers you like to listen to or your favorite motivational quotes, and your favorite inspirational songs or sayings."

"Your kit should be full of reminders to implement positive coping strategies. My kit has a piece of paper telling me to spend 60 seconds writing a list of everything I'm grateful for."

Gillette also warned that diet plays a role in burnout.

"We are less likely to eat the foods that are good for us when we are burned out," Gillette advised. Instead, she stated, we are more likely to gravitate towards comfort food. Failing to get the vitamins and nutrients our bodies need can negatively impact both our body and brain.

"Remember to get that green smoothie that you love," she suggested. "You'll say, 'I feel like I took care of myself today.' There is such a good feeling that comes from taking care of yourself."

You also may be interested in...

The Chief of the Army Dental Corps Talks Dental Health & Readiness

Article
2/22/2022
The Army’s top dentist talks about what service members should keep in mind about their dental health.

Here’s what the Army’s top dentist thinks service members should keep in mind about their dental health.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Total Force Fitness | TRICARE Dental Care

Heart Health Month 2022

Video
2/11/2022
Heart Health Month 2022

Love letter from your heart. Happy Heart Health Month!

Recommended Content:

Heart Health | Total Force Fitness | Heart Health

Women’s Heart Attacks Symptoms Can Differ from Men’s: Know the Signs

Article
2/11/2022
Signs and symptoms of a heart attack can differ between women and men. If you have any of these symptoms, call 911 quickly.

Doctors say women sometimes fail to recognize their unique warnings signs for heart problems.

Recommended Content:

Heart Health | Total Force Fitness | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Heart Health | Women's Health

Enjoy Your Super Bowl Snacks with a Side of Food Safety

Article
2/11/2022
Military personnel grilling food

While millions watch NFL players battle it out in the Super Bowl, the real MVPs on Sunday will be chicken wings—more than 1 billion will be consumed before, during and after the game! Whether you bake, roast, fry or order in your chicken wings, don’t forget the four food safety steps that night.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Nutritional Fitness

Don't Fumble Food Safety on Super Bowl Sunday

Article
2/10/2022
Marine with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit participate in a football tournament in Spain.

Here are some USDA food safety tips to enjoy a safe Super Bowl Sunday.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Nutritional Fitness

Why Today’s ‘Gen Z’ is at Risk for Boot Camp Injuries

Article
2/8/2022
Military personnel during boot camp

Today’s military recruits are more likely than ever to sustain a serious injury at their initial military training. Here’re some tips for how to prepare before shipping out.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness | Nutritional Fitness | Readiness Capabilities | Injury Prevention

MSMR Vol. 29 No. 02 - February 2022

Report
2/1/2022

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Diagnosis of hepatitis C infection and cascade of care in the active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2020; A new approach to categorization of ocular injury among U.S. Armed Forces; Surveillance snapshot: Health care burden attributable to osteoarthritis and spondylosis, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2016–2020

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

How a Dietitian Can Help You Lose Weight and Maintain Readiness

Article
1/31/2022
Military personnel posing for a picture with a banana

Working with a professional dietitian or nutritionist can help people reach and maintain their weight management goals safely and with positive, long-term results.

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness | Total Force Fitness

The 'BodPod' Measures Body Fat and Fat-Free Mass

Article
1/27/2022
Meagan Loughanne, a health educator at Aberdeen Proving Ground Army Wellness Center, Maryland, conducts a BodPod assessment on Sgt. Abdel P. Moluh. This simple and effective assessment provides clients with an accurate measurement of their body fat percentage, fat-free mass and fat mass in pounds. Based on the client’s goals, the health educator will provide tailored education and coaching.

The BodPod is an egg-shaped machine that will give a detailed analysis of your body composition in five minutes, including measuring your fat mass, your fat-free mass, including blood, organs, and muscle.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness | Nutritional Fitness | Mobile Apps

A Healthy Mind and Body: The Psychological Aspects Weight Loss

Article
1/27/2022
Marines with 11th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, participate in a regimental run to celebrate St. Barbara’s Day at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Jan. 13.

It’s essential to dispel the belief that weight loss is a reflection of willpower or discipline – basically, that you can’t lose weight because you don’t want to or you’re not trying hard enough.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness | Nutritional Fitness | Psychological Fitness | Weight Management for Lasting Health

Ask the Doc: The Dangers of Yo-Yo Diets and How to Avoid Them

Article
1/26/2022
Senior Airman Thomas McMurray with the 387th Expeditionary Support Squadron Force Protection prepares for a bench press at Al Mubarak Air Base, Kuwait, May 13, 2021

Find out what you can do to avoid "yo-yo dieting" or "fad diets" such as Keto, intermittent fasting, Paleo? And what are the dangers of these types of diets?

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness | Nutritional Fitness | Ask The Doc

Campaign Plan Targets Medical Readiness, Better Health

Article
1/26/2022
(From left) Army Lt. Col. Shimul Patel, chief, Plastic Surgery Services, Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, and U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jessica Peck, chief, Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic, LRMC, operate on a cancer patient during the first microvascular reconstruction and anastomosis procedure ever performed at LRMC, Dec. 3, 2021.

DHA’s five-year plan focused on improving global health care delivery, military readiness.

Recommended Content:

Ready Reliable Care | Health Readiness & Combat Support

You’d Be Surprised How Eating Habits Affect You, and Your Readiness

Article
1/20/2022
Military personnel picking out broccoli

From Overweight to Fit: Experts Advice

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness | Total Force Fitness

The British 'Limeys' Were Right: A Short History of Scurvy

Article
1/10/2022
Scurvy, a disease caused by lack of vitamin C, sickened sailors who had no access to fresh food supplies, and killed more than 2 million sailors between the 16th and 18th centuries alone.

How citrus fruits quelled the scourge of scurvy.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Nutritional Fitness | Our History

MSMR Vol. 29 No. 01 - January 2022

Report
1/1/2022

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Description of a COVID-19 Beta variant outbreak, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA, February–March 2021; COVID-19 and depressive symptoms among active component U.S. service members, January 2019–July 2021; Surveillance snapshot: Lengths of hospital stays for service members diagnosed with sepsis, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2011–2020.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health
<< < ... 6 7 8 9 10  ... > >> 
Showing results 76 - 90 Page 6 of 43
Refine your search
Last Updated: May 27, 2022

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.