Managing ICU Staff Welfare, Morale, and Burnout

Key points in Critical Care Medicine:

Managing ICU staff Welfare, Morale, and Burnout

 “Adapted from Oxford Textbook of Critical Care-Oxford University Press 2016”

  • The intensive care unit (ICU) environment exposes staff to stressful and emotionally-demanding situations, which places them at high risk for burnout.
  • Risk factors for Burnout can be found at both individual and organization levels.
  • Consequences of low morale and burnout include personal distress for clinicians, poor quality of care for patients, and highly health care costs for organizations and society.
  • Staff engagement is emerging as the antithesis of burnout.
  • We need to promote a wider recognition among ICU staff regrading risks of burnout and the consequences for both them and the patients in their care.

Potential phases of Burnout

  • The need to prove oneself: often occurring in highly motivated and ambitious individuals.
  • Working harder: high personal expectations emerge as further work commitments are undertaken.
  • Neglecting personal needs: no time or energy is reserved for activities or relationships outside the workplace.
  • Displacement of conflict: The individual is unable to identify the cause for their difficulties.
  • Revision of values: isolation from family and friends with a solely job- related value system.
  • Denial: cynicism, aggression, and intolerance of others emerge, leading to isolation.
  • Behavioral changes become more apparent to others: e.g conflict.
  • Depersonalization: loss of appreciation for self and self- worth. Cannot appreciate further success.
  • Inner emptiness: may seek an activity to full the void such as eating, drugs, etc.
  • Depression: typical affective, cognitive and somatic features are present.

Burnout ensues: complete physical and emotional collapse.

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