But Weiner says the work isn't done, and realistically it may never end.
"Are we a culture of quality and safety yet? I think we're working on it. Are we a culture of being patient-centered? We're working on it," she says. "I don't think that there's an endpoint."
Demands vs. resources
When burnout occurs there's often an imbalance or mismatch between a person and his or her job. Decades of research by Maslach and her colleague Michael P. Leiter, PhD, have found these mismatches often occur in six key areas of the work environment:
- Workload—the amount of work to be done in a specific period of time
- Control—the opportunity to make choices and decisions
- Reward—the recognition (financial and social) received for job contributions
- Community—the social context of the work environment
- Fairness—the presence of consistent and equitable rules
- Values—the consistency between an employee's and organization's values
"Those are things that really put people in very difficult imbalances … and can predict burnout down the road," Maslach says.
Weiner says burnout is related to the ratio between demands and resources, and in today's healthcare environment, demands have grown faster than the resources needed to handle them.
"There's the workload of being a physician, the time demands, the intensity of the work—that's always been the case. But the inefficiencies and barriers to providing care have increased as well. In that ratio, when you're increasing those demands without increasing the resources, it contributes to burnout," she says.
Jennifer Thew, RN, is the senior nursing editor at HealthLeaders.