Healthcare Worker Burnout Statistics

JumpMD compiles original healthcare burnout research with public data to serve as a comprehensive statistical resource for journalists, researchers, and the curious public.

by Jurgen Focken
Mar 16th, 2024

Key findings

  • 50% of global healthcare professionals suffer from burnout, with the rate increasing to 56% among nurses.
  • 46% of healthcare workers in the U.S. reported frequently feeling burned out in 2022, an increase from 32% in 2018.
  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, the overall burnout rate of U.S. healthcare workers was 49%, which included 56% of nurses and 47.3% of physicians.
  • 33% of U.S. healthcare employees considered leaving their jobs due to burnout.
  • Nearly half (49.4%) of female healthcare workers experienced burnout, while it was 41.5% among male health workers.

What is healthcare worker burnout?

According to the 2022 US. Surgeon General’s Advisory on ‘Building a Thriving Health Workforce’: “Burnout is an occupational stress syndrome characterized by a high degree of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a low sense of personal accomplishment at work”.

Burnout leads to decreased efficiency and substantial costs for the healthcare system.

Which healthcare workers have the highest rates of burnout?

Based on a cross-sectional survey conducted in 2020, nurses had the highest burnout rate at 56%, while 41% intended to leave their roles.

Table: Percentage of burnout and intent to leave among different healthcare employees

Type of healthcare worker Burnout % Intent to leave %
Nurse 56% 41%
Clinical Staff 54% 32%
Physician 47% 24%
Non-clinical staff 45% 32%

Why has burnout been increasing?

Increased administrative burden

According to a survey by Medical Economics in 2021, 31% of doctors reported ‘paperwork’ as a leading contributor to their feelings of burnout.

For every hour spent on direct patient care, physicians spend two hours on the electronic health record (EHR) and other administrative chores.

Nurses dedicate up to 41% of their time to the EHR and documentation.

Higher workload

Healthcare workers reported higher workload as one of the main reasons for burnout. The highest prevalence of work overload was among clinical staff and nurses.
Table: Percentage of workers reporting work overload in the healthcare industry

Type of Healthcare worker Work overload
Nurses 46%
Physicians 37%
Clinical Staff 47%
Non-clinical staff 44%

Staffing shortages

  • A study by consulting firm Mercer anticipates that there will be a deficit of 446,300 home health aides, 29,400 nurse practitioners, and 40000 medical technicians by 2025.
  • According to the American Medical Association, about half of all working physicians in the United States are 55 years or older.
  • Within the next five years, 35% of the medical workforce will be eligible for retirement.
  • The American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) predicts a shortage of physicians between 54,100 and 139,000 by 2033.

Harassment and violence at work

In 2021, over one-quarter (23.4%) of healthcare employees reported being bullied, threatened, or harassed at work.

In October 2021, at least 300 health department leaders quit their positions due to reported threats, intimidation, lack of funds, and lack of cooperation from legislators and government authorities.

Among healthcare workers who reported harassment, 85% experienced anxiety symptoms, 60% were depressed, and 81% felt burned out.

Compassion fatigue

Compassion fatigue is a state of physical or psychological exhaustion because of prolonged exposure to sick or traumatized individuals, diminishing the caregiver’s ability to provide compassionate care.

Studies suggest that 16% to 39% of registered nurses experience symptoms of compassion fatigue, particularly nurses working in emergencies, hospice, oncology, and pediatrics. Compassion fatigue is frequently associated with burnout.

How did the COVID-19 pandemic impact healthcare worker burnout?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare workers worldwide faced unprecedented challenges to detect and prevent transmission, provide guidance, and treat patients. They were overwhelmed by the number of patients and often had to work long hours without days off.

49% of U.S. health workers experienced burnout during the pandemic, including nursing assistants, medical assistants, social workers, and housekeepers.

In a survey of health workers with children, 76% expressed concern about exposing their children to COVID-19. A significantly high prevalence of anxiety (24.94%), depression (24.83%), and sleep disturbances (44.03%) was observed in a meta-analysis assessing the mental health of healthcare workers.

By the end of 2020, one in every three health workers in the U.S. considered leaving their jobs. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, nursing facilities reported a loss of 15% of their total workforce after two years of the pandemic.

Healthcare worker burnout symptoms

Symptoms of burnout

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), burnout has three dimensions:

  1. Exhaustion or feelings of energy depletion
  2. Negative feelings or cynicism towards the job
  3. Reduced work efficiency

Workers suffering from burnout often experience the following symptoms:

  • Chronic stress
  • Pessimistic outlook
  • Obsession with problems
  • Self-doubt
  • Social isolation
  • Chronic headaches
  • Chronic gastrointestinal (GI) problems
  • Neglect of personal needs
  • Behavioral changes

In extreme cases, burnout can cause chronic mental and physical fatigue, leading to depression.

Impact of burnout on the healthcare system

Burnout among health personnel has detrimental effects on patient care and safety, for instance:

  • lack of provider engagement with patients
  • increased medical errors
  • delayed care and diagnosis
  • higher rate of hospital-acquired infections among patients
  • workforce shortages and retention challenges

The yearly cost of burnout-related turnover is $9 billion for nurses and $2.6 to $6.3 billion for physicians.

Measures to improve healthcare worker burnout

  • Improving workplace culture to empower health workers
  • Ensuring an inclusive environment and combating discrimination
  • Reducing administrative burdens of healthcare workers
  • Committing to the health and safety of health workers
  • Increasing access to high-quality mental health and substance use care
  • Building community and social connections among healthcare workers
  • Appreciating healthcare workers so that they feel valued and supported
  • Assisting health workers in prioritizing quality time with patients and colleagues
  • Recruiting, expanding, and retaining a diverse healthcare workforce to address current and future issues in the healthcare system


  1. “Burn-out an Occupational Phenomenon: International Classification of Diseases.” World Health Organization, 28 May 2019.
  2. Maslach, Christina, Wilmar B. Schaufeli, and Michael P. Leiter. “Job Burnout.” Annual Review of Psychology, vol. 52, no. 1, 2001, pp. 397–422.
  3. “World Failing in ‘Our Duty of Care’ to Protect Mental Health and Wellbeing of Health and Care Workers, Finds Report on Impact of COVID-19.” World Health Organization, 5 Oct. 2022.
  4. “Mental Health, Substance Use, and Suicidal Ideation During the COVID-19 Pandemic — United States, June 24–30, 2020.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14 Aug. 2020.
  5. Giorgi, Gabriele, et al. “COVID-19-Related Mental Health Effects in the Workplace: A Narrative Review.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, vol. 17, no. 21, 2020, p. 7857.
  6. Pfefferbaum, Betty, and Carol S. North. “Mental Health and the Covid-19 Pandemic.” The New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 383, 2020, pp. 510-512.
  7. Vinkers, Christiaan H., et al. “Stress Resilience during the Coronavirus Pandemic.” European Neuropsychopharmacology, vol. 35, 2020, pp. 12–16.
  8. Lippi, Giuseppe, et al. “Health Risks and Potential Remedies during Prolonged Lockdowns for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).” Diagnosis, vol. 7, no. 2, 2020, pp. 85–90.
  9. “Top Challenges of 2021: #1 Administrative Burdens and Paperwork.” Medical Economics, 17 Dec. 2020.
  10. Mercer. “Healthcare.” Mercer, 2021.
  11. Jablonski, Rebecca. “The US Is Suffering a Healthcare Worker Shortage, Experts Fear It Will Only Get Worse.” The Hill, 22 April 2022.
  12. “The Complexities of Physician Supply and Demand: Projections from 2018 to 2033.” Association of American Medical Colleges, 2020.
  13. Galea, Sandro, and Raina M. Merchant. “The Mental Health Consequences of COVID-19 and Physical Distancing: The Need for Prevention and Early Intervention.” JAMA Internal Medicine, vol. 180, no. 6, 2020, pp. 817–818.
  14. Pappa, Sophia, et al. “Prevalence of Depression, Anxiety, and Insomnia among Healthcare Workers during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.” Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, vol. 88, 2020, pp. 901–907.
  15. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. “Addressing Health Worker Burnout: The U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory.” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2021.