How Compassion Can Help Address Healthcare Worker Burnout


Burnout is a syndrome that arises when the demands of work exceed the resources that you're offered to manage them — it's an organizational problem.

John Rudoy, PhD and Beth Lown

3 min read

Editor's note: Health systems again are being overwhelmed by COVID -19 cases, brought on largely by the rapid spread of the Delta and Omicron variants. The surges are putting even more stress on front-line workers. It is important that leaders look for ways to address fatigue and burnout, especially with more cases likely on the horizon during the winter months.

In this podcast, Beth Lown, Chief  Medical Officer of the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare, talks about how to reinfuse our healthcare system with a spirit of compassion and how this can improve well-being for the healthcare workforce and patients alike. It is part of the Healthy Societies podcast series that explores the many ways in which businesses can take an expanded view of their role in advancing the health of their broader communities. Listen to part one, part two and part three of the series.

Listen to the Podcast

Show highlights:

  • “Burnout, I think, from a larger view, might have been viewed as a failing in the individual, but it is not. Burnout is a syndrome that arises when the demands of work really exceed the resources that you’re offered to manage them.”
  • “There are regulatory issues as well. We talked about how doctors are ‘OK with not being OK’ and a lot of it is: ‘I’m afraid of judgment and afraid of looking weak’ and another part of it is ‘I’m afraid to ask my teammates to cover; I know they’re suffering, too.'”
  • "We know that physician suicide in general, especially women physicians, is much higher than the general population. And that is something we could remedy. These state licensing boards can change that.”
  • “Right now, what we have is a system … focused on technology and procedures and reimbursement incentives that exceed health promotion, integrating primary care with mental behavioral health, increasing behavioral health services — all of these would really promote a more compassionate society when it comes to health care.”

The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Care and Marsh McLennan explored this issue during a December 8 webinar. Click here for more information.

  • John Rudoy, PhD and
  • Beth Lown