Baby Burnout

Healthcare workers and caregivers are among the highest at-risk populations to experience burnout. Working in a field in which we are pouring into our patients constantly (in addition to pouring into the next generation of SLPs, advocating for the rest of the world to understand exactly what we do or even acknowledge that we exist, consuming all the research to stay updated on the latest EBP, writing all the reports/IEPs, pushing for resources to be able to do our job, etc. The list goes on and on, my friends. This is the list that never ends.) can leave us feeling empty with nothing left for ourselves at the end of the day. I sat down with Michelle Dawson on the First Bite Podcast to talk all things burnout. You can find it on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

I know this may be shocking, but when two SLPs sit down to chat, the conversation can, not only go on forever, it can go in many different directions and loopty-loops back around to the beginning thought and stray from the strategically planned outline I began with. I’m a much more organized writer than conversationalist. So, here’s the pretty outline I began with for this episode of First Bite, in case anyone needs a roadmap.

Burnout is a state of emotional exhaustion that results from failing, wearing out, or feeling totally used up due to too many demands on one's energy, strength, or resources.

The current definition of burnout in ICD-10 is the “state of vital exhaustion.” It doesn’t mention its relation to occupation. However, according to ICD-11 is “Burn-out is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions: 1) feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; 2) increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job; and 3) reduced professional efficacy. Burn-out refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.”

I, however, believe that burnout can be experienced in any area of life that is depleting, stressful, and exhausting. This can include your role as a partner, parent, caregiver, PTO president, Convention Committee Chair, etc. Anything that leaves you feeling like your tank is constantly on E, can lead to burnout in that area of your life. For the purpose of this post, we'll be talking about occupational burnout.


Medscape National Physician Burnout, Depression & Suicide Report 2019

15K physicians participated.

~50% report being burnt out.

50% of women and 39% of men reported burnout.

Reported contributing factors:

-too many bureaucratic tasks (paperwork)

-too many hours at work

-increased computerization of practice

-lack of respect from administrators and colleagues

-insufficient compensation

-lack of autonomy

-gov regulations

-feeling like just a cog in a wheel

-emphasis on profits over patients

-lack of respect from patients


The study found: Greater hours equals greater burnout.


There is so much pressure to do MORE, work more, sell more, be more, take the extra shift or extra patient, take on a side business, take on PTO, take on a leadership position, take on an Instagram, and when we do so without making space, we’re letting these things consume what we could have left for ourselves. I fully believe it’s possible to do it all, but not without taking care of yourself first.


I have felt burnout in different settings that I’ve worked in and for different reasons in each.

School setting - minimal parental investment, minimal time with the kids, more focus on paperwork and checking boxes

Private practice- minimal carryover, no shows, wanting me to be a magic wand and “just fix it”, pressure to bill more with less time spent with kids, unrealistic outcome expectations, really missing medical SLP

Hospital- productivity, lack of respect or acknowledgment, COVID, not getting to see the recovery, so many evals that you don’t have time for treatments, colleagues lack of knowledge about what we do and how specialized we really are, lack of resources needed to provide EBP


My personal signs that let me know I’m moving towards burnout:

-I don’t want to get out of bed, being sick sounds better than being at work.

-walking by a hospital room and although I’m thankful for my health, being in that bed sounded better than another day at work. I just wanted to rest. I was beyond exhausted, physically and mentally.

-generally grumpy


-FATIGUE- a different kind of tired

-passing out after work

-short tempered

-overall low state of living


Battling burnout is about balance. It all comes down to setting boundaries that help you to keep your life more balanced. It’s a never-ending balancing act that you have to work at every single day. I can deal with allllll the rough stuff for 8 hours a day. But then I HAVE to step away to be able to come back. Then, I have the energy and drive to advocate for change and improvement, to make advances for my program or patients, to be the ambitious person who strives for growth that I really am.


My advice for preventing burnout:

-Dont take the extra shift every time. Don’t stay late every time. EVEN when you want to. It may feel like it’s not a big deal now and you’re really in love with your job. But this is a marathon not a sprint. Like any relationship, distance makes the heart grow fonder.

-Learn to say NO, like today.

-there will ALWAYS be another activity to plan and prep or another patient to see or another eval to do. ALWAYS. So stop telling yourself that you have to get it all done. It’s impossible. It will NEVER be possible to do it all. There is freedom in accepting that.

-Remember, you can only do what you can do. You’re only one person.

-Stop bending for everyone else because you will break eventually


-TAKE YOUR DANG LUNCH. Stop working for free. Your time is worth more. Take your lunch. Go for a walk or read or do nothing at all. Taking a break in the middle of your day is a really easy way to recharge and take a moment to remember that there's more going on in the world than the challenges immediately in front of you.

-Start a resentment journal (Fried Podcast with Cait Donovan). Where you feel resentment is where you need better boundaries.

-STOP taking work home with you. For the love. For ALL of the rest of us, if you wont do it for yourself, STOP taking work home. When everyone does it, it is expected. When we all refuse, the choice is respected.

-Do the self care, especially when you don’t feel like doing the self care. not just a face mask or bath bomb. Do the real, HARD work. Self-care is kinda like a job, but one that respects you and appreciates you and sows goodness into your life. Make time for it.

-Find an activity that doesn’t make you money and you enjoy doing just because you enjoy it

-See a counselor. For real, this one will change your life. It’s not the cliché most people imagine it to be and is a great way to release your anxiety/tension/frustration/all the feels, in a safe space while learning some coping strategies. (64% of people from the study that reported suicidal thoughts and depression hadn’t sought out a counselor)

It’s all the stuff that we know we’re supposed to do, but don’t have time for because work is invading our personal time. Get your sleep, meditate, move your body, stop eating the junk. It’s the little things that add up to be the big things. And when your work is draining you, you stop making time for the little things. Make time for them. Make time for you, because you deserve it.

If you are struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts, please don’t be afraid to reach out to talk to someone. and are both options to talk to a counselor from the comfort of your phone.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 1-800-273-TALK


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Baby Burnout

Healthcare workers and caregivers are among the highest at-risk populations to experience burnout. Working in a field in which we are pourin...