Why Do Allied Health Professionals Have a High Burnout Rate?

  • By Renato Parletta
  • December 1, 2023
Why Do Allied Health Professionals Have a High Burnout Rate?

A recent study found that 42% of UK nurses report burnout. This is well above the European average of 28%. But what’s even more concerning is that it doesn’t just affect nurses. Other professionals in allied healthcare, from physiotherapists to speech therapists, also deal with burnout.

The toll of burnout within these sectors raises big questions about why it happens. It poses many concerns beyond the obvious strain on mental and emotional well-being. It threatens the quality of patient care, making things harder on a healthcare system that’s already struggling.

To figure this out, it’s important to understand why allied health professionals have such a high burnout rate. Getting to the bottom of this could shed light on solutions that might make a huge difference in the lives of professionals in allied health. Keep reading to learn more and discover how iinsight can help.

What Is Burnout and Why Should You Care?

Burnout is characterized by emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion from prolonged stress. It often develops when there’s an imbalance between demands and resources over an extended period of time. This stress soon starts manifesting through irritability, sadness, lack of energy, and other symptoms.

For allied healthcare professionals, burnout can have a devastating impact on their lives and careers. For starters, it does profound damage to their mental health and wellbeing. It also erodes their ability to provide high-quality care to their patients.

Healthcare workers experiencing burnout are more likely to make mistakes. They lack motivation to do their job, which is why many end up leaving the profession entirely. And with the understaffing crisis, this turnover only worsens healthcare gaps.

It dries up the demands on those who remain, and the vicious cycle is never-ending. Clearly, taking steps to address burnout in allied health is vital. It benefits both caregivers and the patients who rely on them.

The Main Causes of Burnout in Allied Health Professionals

Allied healthcare professionals face a wide range of pressures in their work. That combined with a lack of support and reasons, creates the perfect conditions for burnout to fester. That said, what are the main reasons behind the high burnout rates in allied health careers?

Here are some of the common factors that contribute to this problem:

Demanding Workloads

Professionals in allied health often have to deal with heavy workloads. Their days are spent back-to-back appointments and managing paperwork. This coupled with the fact that they have to provide personalized care to every patient adds to the pressures of the job.

Moreover, there’s little time built into busy clinic days for breaks or downtime. Even the most hardworking and dedicated professionals in high-burnout jobs struggle. And at the end of long workdays, many therapists have little left to give.

The first step toward dealing with these challenges is realistic workloads. This would lighten the load and leave more breathing room in schedules. As a result, professionals would be able to give patients their best.

Administrative Overload

Many health professionals enter their field seeking to help patients directly. However, they often end up spending a lot of time on paperwork and admin tasks instead.

For example, therapists must complete progress notes, treatment plans, and more for every patient. There are also mandatory training, forms to fill out, and regulatory requirements. All these and other tasks often spill into unpaid overtime.

These skilled professionals shouldn’t waste their talents on endless paperwork. They need better systems and support to automate some tasks. That way, medical professionals can concentrate on caring for patients.

Inefficient Workflows

Another common reason for burnout is inefficient workflows. Too many teams still rely on outdated systems in the workplace. These include using paper files, physical forms, and faxes.

Even simple tasks like scheduling appointments or filling prescriptions end up taking hours. Staff loses time dealing with endless heaps of documents, missing information, and follow-ups. This creates backlogs, slowing down how quickly patients get care.

Storing important information in old systems also slows down decisions about care. Doctors and nurses waste time asking for info, waiting for faxes, or sorting through messy paper records just to get what they need. This means they spend less time actually helping patients and more time looking for important info. Even just organizing basic care plans can be quite frustrating.

On top of that, inefficient workflow increases the risk of errors. This can be risky for patients. It can also leave hardworking staff feeling tired and overwhelmed.

The good news is that using case management software can help teams work smarter. No more worrying about too many spreadsheets, messy notes, or conflicting schedules. This could go a long way toward reducing stress for healthcare workers.

Emotional Toll of Patient Care

Caring for patients in vulnerable situations takes a lot out of allied healthcare workers emotionally. They face a ton of pressure from the system they work in, which makes things even harder. Many drawn to this work wish to help, but they often don’t get the support they really need, leaving them frustrated.

This is especially true for professionals who work with kids, people recovering after an injury, or palliative care. Doing their job means they see a lot of sadness and pain. This can take a toll on one’s mental health over time.

The ongoing needs and painful backslides are often a reminder that there’s still a long road ahead. And even when a patient gets a breakthrough, it can be difficult to see that as a win. Instead, healthcare workers often feel like they’re taking two steps forward, and one step backward.

Despite their own vulnerabilities, these caregivers weather terrible storms alone. They occupy sacred spaces of patient hardship yet enjoy little backing. This makes building resilience to sustain compassion extraordinarily difficult.

Urgent systemic changes are needed to support this precious empathy. Or these expressive, caring professionals will continue burning out from sheer emotional exhaustion.

Limited Support Systems

Allied healthcare workers often lack enough support for their mental health. This is despite being heavily exposed to trauma. Resources like support groups and counselling for staff essentially don’t exist in some workplaces.

Instead, leadership often discourages transparent communication about internal struggles. If someone admits they’re having a hard time or asks for help, they risk being labelled as weak. This leads to many professionals keeping their struggles inside. The fears around losing their jobs don’t help matters.

Meanwhile, many professionals work early mornings and late nights without enough sleep. This makes basic self-care, like eating well or taking breaks, an afterthought. This demanding pace just adds to the pressure until workers burnout.

Using reputable case management software could be helpful in preventing career burnout. It automates tasks and makes managing patient care easier. This creates more time for healthcare workers to take care of themselves.

Poor Work-Life Balance

The demands of allied health careers don’t leave much room for life outside of work. Practitioners struggle to spend time with family and other things they enjoy doing, simply because there isn’t enough time. This slowly wears down one’s passion for the job.

For many, work often bleeds into nights and weekends. They work overtime, catching up on paperwork or handling emergencies. This means they miss out on important things like birthdays or holidays that help provide emotional resilience. Missing these events adds up and takes its toll over time.

Having a full schedule also means that there’s barely any time to relax and recharge. There aren’t enough workers in facilities, so practitioners work long hours to keep up with impossible caseloads. 50-60+ hour workweeks become the norm, leaving minimal energy left for non-work priorities most weeks.

Better boundaries and reasonable changes at work are key to creating a culture that encourages breaks. It could give professionals the flexibility to do their job and have personal lives. This could make or break retention.

Lack of Role Clarity

A lot of jobs in healthcare overlap, but are still pretty different. However, not many people understand what these disciplines entail. This results in practitioners being asked to help out in ways that aren’t really part of their job.

Well-meaning professionals lean on allied staff to help fill the gaps caused by understaffing. The problem with this is that many allied workers lack the training and skills to practice across fields. To make matters worse, they often have to handle the extra workload without additional resources.

These blurred boundaries make their already busy schedules even more packed. This can lead to mistakes that can hurt patients. Doing unfamiliar medical activities also increases the risk of practitioner burnout. Yet many remain silent because they don’t want to seem difficult.

Continual scope creep without added bandwidth quickly cultivates burnout and a desire to leave. Therefore, there needs to be clearer definitions of what each role entails. This would benefit both allied staff and the patients relying on them.

See iinsight’s Case Management System at Work

As you can see, burnout is a real concern in allied health. However, this doesn’t have to be the case for your practice. Not when you have iinsight.
Designed specifically for allied health professionals, our case management software automates tedious admin tasks. It helps dramatically boost efficiency so you can reclaim your passion for healing.

Book a demo and start streamlining your case management with iinsight today.

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