Alarming Rates of Job Burnout Among Hospital Doctors and Nurses Revealed by Survey


Hospital environments, often characterized by physical violence, sexual harassment, verbal abuse, indifferent management, long and demanding shifts, and the constant risk of contracting a deadly illness, are proving to be major contributors to job burnout among doctors and nurses. A recent survey published in JAMA Health Forum shed light on the concerning prevalence of burnout among healthcare professionals, even in top-ranked institutions. The survey found that nearly half of all nurses (47%) reported experiencing burnout, with 40% expressing a desire to leave their current jobs if given the opportunity. Similarly, 32% of doctors reported feeling burnout, with 23% expressing a willingness to quit their positions.

Survey Scope and Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic

The nationwide survey encompassed 21,050 clinicians working at 60 hospitals recognized as Magnet hospitals by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, known for providing exceptional nursing care and patient support. The COVID-19 pandemic proved to be a breaking point for many healthcare workers, as they faced brutal working conditions and the constant fear of contracting the deadly virus and transmitting it to their families. Unfortunately, working conditions have not improved significantly since the pandemic, with nationwide nursing and doctor shortages identified as major contributing factors to the problem.

Persistent Issues and Need for Improvement

Dr. Linda Aiken, the study's author and professor at Penn Nursing's Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research, highlighted that hospitals have struggled to recover from the challenges posed by the pandemic. However, burnout rates were already alarmingly high before the pandemic struck. The shortage of nursing staff and doctors has exacerbated the situation, leaving hospitals ill-prepared to address the issue effectively. The survey revealed that 87% of nurses and 45% of doctors agreed that improving nurse staffing was crucial for their well-being.

The Early Retirement Dilemma

Many clinicians, particularly those over the age of 55, have chosen early retirement due to the exhausting demands they faced during the pandemic. Dr. David Hass, president of the Connecticut State Medical Society, noted that healthcare professionals worked tirelessly during the crisis, leading to a significant number of retirements. The toll of the pandemic has driven experienced medical professionals out of the workforce, further exacerbating the shortage issue.

Workplace Safety and Patient Concerns

Workplace safety has become a serious concern in hospitals, with a 2021 report from the AFL-CIO indicating a 95% increase in workplace violence injuries in healthcare facilities since 2010. Shockingly, 82% of surveyed nurses reported experiencing some form of workplace violence during the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey also highlighted concerns about workload control and patient safety. More than half of physicians and nurses lacked confidence in patients' ability to manage their care after discharge, and over a quarter of nurses rated their own hospitals unfavorably in terms of patient safety.

Need for Effective Solutions

The study authors stressed that hospital management's response to burnout has often focused on helping clinicians adapt to difficult working conditions rather than addressing the root causes. Attempts to implement resilience training, wellness programs, yoga classes, or quiet rooms have been met with hostility from doctors and nurses who believe these measures fail to tackle the underlying problems. There is a significant disconnect between clinicians and management, with the former recognizing the need for meaningful changes in their work environment.


The survey findings provide alarming evidence of the pervasive issue of burnout among hospital doctors and nurses. The high prevalence of burnout poses risks to patient safety, with the shortage of nurses identified as a critical concern. Hospitals must prioritize the improvement of nurse staffing levels to alleviate burnout and enhance the overall well-being of healthcare professionals. It is essential to foster a work environment that addresses the root causes of burnout rather than placing the burden solely on clinicians. By implementing effective solutions, hospitals can cultivate a more supportive and sustainable environment for doctors and nurses, ultimately benefiting both healthcare professionals and the patients they serve.