Burnout is often inappropriately classified as depression, which inappropriately implies that the individual is the center of the problem rather than the larger, abusive corporate system. The incidence of actual depression among physicians who report being burned out is thought to be about 20% of the number burned out based on official criteria for depression.
Focusing on the individual allows the larger corporation to shirk responsibility for the significantly dysfunctional system created, in large part, by their corporate greed. Corporations have taken autonomy away from physicians and other heathcare workers but have not taken the commensurate responsibility for the deterioration in both engagement and enthusiasm that will inevitably result when highly trained people do not have any control over the context in which they have the greatest expertise. Why are business people who know nothing about healthcare, did no relevant education, had no relevant training, and will never care because they’ll always be protected by the VIP suite in a hospital, running the show?! The mere fact of it qualifies as Twilight Zone material.
It is a lose-lose situation for the health care worker to have no control and maximal responsibility. Of course, this happens because the administrative side decides it will take the win-win: they will have all the control, yet when the inevitable burnout happens, they will institute their customary bait ‘n switch and declare that it is the individual’s personality, coping mechanisms, etc which are the problem, thus not taking responsibility.
Obviously, this cannot work in the long-term, if healthcare worker engagement is any consideration: and it should be primary. Nobody wants to be on the lose-lose end of an equation, especially not when the administrators in this particular context are often utterly clueless and, despite this, are leeching bloated salaries out of the hard work of front liners.
Thanks for a great article!