Skip to main content

Military Health System

How Health Care Providers Can Mitigate Burnout

Image of U.S. Army Soldiers load a simulated patient on to a New Jersey National Guard UH-60L Black Hawk helicopter during a combat lifesaver course run by the Medical Simulation Training Center on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, April 14, 2022.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht). U.S. Army Soldiers load a simulated patient on to a New Jersey National Guard UH-60L Black Hawk helicopter during a combat lifesaver course run by the Medical Simulation Training Center on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, April 14, 2022. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht)

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Health Readiness & Combat Support

When the demands of the mission mount up, all military service members can be at risk of burnout.

Turning to health care providers for help is a good option.

But what about the health care providers themselves?

Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, the men and women who run the military health system have faced an enormous workload, with seemingly no end in sight. That can put health care professionals at significant risk.

"No one is immune to burnout," stated Air Force Reserve psychologist Lt. Col. Jennifer Gillette.

"Healthcare providers are very good at rescuing others. We train for it and practice it daily. Unfortunately, we often do so at the expense of our own health and wellness," said Gillette, who serves in support of the Air Force director of psychological health at the Air Force Medical Readiness Agency.

Key symptoms of burnout among health care providers include feeling tired and fatigued as well as headaches, muscle tension, and stomach distress. Gillette said burnout can also lead to poor sleep, over-eating, or heavy drinking.

Lesser-known symptoms include emotional disconnection or feeling detached from peers or coworkers. Becoming insensitive, sarcastic, or cynical can also be a sign of burnout, leading to a lack of empathy towards patients or feelings of personal incompetence.

Overall, it can significantly impact patient care, productivity, and organizational success. For military health care professionals, taking care of yourself is a key part of the mission.

"We must take care of ourselves if we want to prevent it. For example, we can't expect our cars to keep running if we don't fill them up with gas and take them in for regular maintenance."

"If we just keep driving without taking care of our cars or ourselves, we will find ourselves broken down on the side of the road calling for help," she said.

Seeking Help

A key step to addressing burnout is simply to reach out.

"We want to make sure that we're looking for social support," said Lt. Col. Catherine Callendar, deputy director of psychological health for the Air Force. "That may sound very simplistic, but the reality is, there's so much research that tells us when we talk to somebody that we feel is supportive of us, there are positive neurochemical changes that take place in the brain."

"And we really do feel better for very tangible reasons. So, seeking social support, and talking to friends, and family really can prove very beneficial to us."

Gillette says one of the keys to prevention is self-awareness.

"Practicing mindfulness can help us learn to tune into ourselves more, takes us off autopilot, and helps us become more aware of the present moment," Gillette said.

Some of her other suggestions:

  • Self-care practices like exercise, yoga and sleeping at least seven hours a night
  • Create (and stick to) a morning routine
  • Remind yourself of the value and purpose in your work
  • Make sure you maintain some work-life balance
  • Go for a walk or a nature hike
  • Take time away from all digital devices

All service members, especially health care providers, should take time to support their colleagues and, when needed, seek that support.

"When I ask active duty members about their time in the military, they often say the best part about their service is the amazing friends they've met over the years. When I ask veterans what they miss, they say the camaraderie and the brotherhood. People want to feel a sense a belongingness. If going to work is where your tribe is and where you feel supported, included, and valued, you'll enjoy going to work," Gillette said.

Gillette describes positive coping strategies as a sort of "psychological first aid kit."

"Most of us have a medical first aid kit that has band-aids and a variety of medicinal aids in it. But how many of us have a psychological first aid kit when we sustain an emotional injury?"

"This kit could include a reminder to call a friend who makes you laugh or to go out for a run at your favorite park. It could have some motivational speakers you like to listen to or your favorite motivational quotes, and your favorite inspirational songs or sayings."

"Your kit should be full of reminders to implement positive coping strategies. My kit has a piece of paper telling me to spend 60 seconds writing a list of everything I'm grateful for."

Gillette also warned that diet plays a role in burnout.

"We are less likely to eat the foods that are good for us when we are burned out," Gillette advised. Instead, she stated, we are more likely to gravitate towards comfort food. Failing to get the vitamins and nutrients our bodies need can negatively impact both our body and brain.

"Remember to get that green smoothie that you love," she suggested. "You'll say, 'I feel like I took care of myself today.' There is such a good feeling that comes from taking care of yourself."

You also may be interested in...

Two Public Health Command Europe Soldiers Receive Highly Sought-After Expert Medical Field Badge

Article Around MHS
11/30/2022
U.S. Army Sgt. Stephanie Hardin taking the M4 proficiency test

One officer and one enlisted soldier assigned to Public Health Command Europe earned the coveted Expert Field Medical Badge on their first try during a grueling three-week testing event conducted by the 173rd Infantry Brigade at Caserma Del Din.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness

How the U.S. Military Acclimates Units to High-Altitude Operations

Article
11/28/2022
Service members on a mountain

The Military Health System takes measures to prevent and mitigate altitude sickness in service members operating at high altitudes. For best results, it’s key to acclimate units gradually and progressively.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Health Readiness & Combat Support

Lifestyle Changes Could Add 10-15 Years to Your Life

Article
11/8/2022
A female Navy physical therapist works with a senior citizen lying on a table holding a ball.

You're never too old to start being more physically active and eating healthier, which can add years to your life.

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health Toolkit | Total Force Fitness

Medical Maintenance Sustaining the Warfighter

Article Around MHS
11/1/2022
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Monica Hewey works on ventilator

Biomedical Equipment Technician, or BMET, is one of those little-known career fields in the Air Force, yet it has a big impact on readiness and lethality.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support

Tactical Medical Augmentation Team Increases Combat Medical Capability

Article Around MHS
10/24/2022
Tactical Medical Augmentation Team Increases Combat Medical Capability

To find a solution to an identified gap in medical care provided in combat situations, the U.S. Air Force 920th Rescue Wing’s Aeromedical Staging Squadron developed the Tactical Medical Augmentation Team, an embedded medical team that will bring a new level of patient care directly to the battlefield.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Readiness Capabilities

U.S. Army's Regional Health Command-Europe Redesignates to Medical Readiness Command

Article Around MHS
10/11/2022
Military personnel at color ceremony

The U.S. Army is modernizing medical care to provide sustained expeditionary, and tailored medical forces to support the Army against any adversary in joint, multi-domain, high-intensity battlefields of the future and through the next pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support

Training Marines as Combat Life Savers

Article Around MHS
10/7/2022
Military medical personnel practice lifesaving procedures

U.S. Navy Corpsman from Expeditionary Operations Training Group (EOTG), I Marine Expeditionary Force, hosted the second iteration of Marines training on life saving fundamentals and casualty care.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support

MSMR Vol. 29 No. 09 - September 2022

Report
9/1/2022

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Surveillance trends for SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory pathogens among U.S. Military Health System Beneficiaries, Sept. 27, 2020 – Oct. 2,2021; Establishment of SARS-CoV-2 genomic surveillance within the MHS during March 1 – Dec. 31 2020; Suicide behavior among heterosexual, lesbian/gay, and bisexual active component service members in the U.S. Armed Forces; Brief report: Phase I results using the Virtual Pooled Registry Cancer Linkage system (VPR-CLS) for military cancer surveillance.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report

Mental Health Office Helps AUAB Members Maintain Readiness

Article Around MHS
8/30/2022
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Melissa Leonardo smiles for photo

Comprehensive Airman Fitness is comprised of physical, social, spiritual and mental fitness. Being physically fit to fight and maintaining a war fighter spirit are crucial to completing the mission.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Spiritual Fitness | Nutritional Fitness | Depression | Posttraumatic Stress Disorder | Anxiety | Stress | Mental Health: Seeking Care with TRICARE | Mental Health is Health Care

Battalion Hosts Critical Medical Training

Article Around MHS
8/24/2022
Military personnel in combat training exercise

Allied Forces North Battalion conducted a week-long Combat Lifesaver Course July 25-29.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Education & Training | Building Partner Capacity and Interoperability | Global Health Security Agenda

Bulgarian Armed Forces Demonstrate Combat Medical Advancements

Article
8/22/2022
Two medics tend to a dummy in a simulated emergency.

Bulgarian Armed Forces showed off their combat lifesaving training to a U.S. delegation Aug. 10.

Recommended Content:

Education & Training | Health Readiness & Combat Support | Global Health Engagement

Corpsman Care during Atlantic Ocean ops on MSC ship

Article Around MHS
8/4/2022
Military medical personnel performing emergency surgery

There’s a reason why U.S. Navy independent duty corpsmen are found assigned on isolated platforms from the wide expanse of the Indo-Pacific Theater to the far reaches of the Atlantic Ocean.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Global Health Engagement

Wellness Fair Showcases Ample Resources at Naval Hospital Bremerton

Article Around MHS
8/2/2022
Military personnel demonstrating a grip therapy

Naval Hospital Bremerton hosted a holistic Wellness Fair in late July 2022.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Performance Nutrition: Fuel Your Body and Mind | Total Body Preventive Health - Dental, Medical & Mental | Nutritional Fitness | Health Readiness Support

How Performance Nutrition Can Help You Maintain Readiness

Article
7/29/2022
A person serving himself a salad

Performance nutrition is a major key to force readiness.

Recommended Content:

Performance Nutrition: Fuel Your Body and Mind | Total Force Fitness | Nutritional Fitness

Soldiers Not Immune to Damage of Sun's Rays

Article Around MHS
7/28/2022
Soldiers not immune to damage of sun’s rays

Some soldiers have a greater risk for developing skin cancer than others. For July’s UV Safety Awareness month, soldiers should be aware of their risks and how to reduce their chances of skin cancer.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Summer Safety
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 42
Refine your search
Last Updated: May 27, 2022
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery