13 Telltale Signs of Physician Burnout


The North Dakota Professional Health Program is dedicated to facilitate the rehabilitation of healthcare providers who have physical or mental health conditions that could compromise public safety and to monitor their recovery.

A physician’s life is the perfect recipe for burnout. As an already high performer, your limits are tested every day with virtually impossible time and performance demands.

How can you tell if you or a colleague is burned out? Here’s a checklist of important signs to look for:

  1. Just can’t recharge: Between shifts or after a vacation, you come back to work still drained.
  2. Expressed feelings of dread: You frequently describe the workload as insurmountable.
  3. Forgetful or inattentive: Your poor focus impacts job performance and makes you more prone to accidents and injuries.
  4. Insomnia: Even though you’re emotionally exhausted, you don’t sleep well. You’re “wired, but tired.”
  5. Prone to illness: Because of a suppressed immune system, you suffer illnesses more frequently or develop a chronic condition.
  6. Become cynical: You lack enthusiasm and enjoyment. You’re anxious or pessimistic.
  7. Resentment or indifferent toward patients: “Compassion fatigue” sets in and you start to complain about patients in a callous way.
  8. Trust issues: You become unwilling to collaborate, and you don’t share information as much.
  9. Become socially isolated: You may opt out of office lunches or parties. Or you habitually arrive late (or early) to avoid having to interact with others.
  10. Short-tempered, irritable, angry: Your professional demeanor starts to go by the wayside.
  11. Poor decision making: You neglect to consider all diagnostic or treatment options, impairing patient outcomes.
  12. Lack of motivation: You forego taking important steps toward career advancement.
  13. Divorce or breakup: Burnout may be one of the underlying culprits in a divorce or broken relationships.

What to Do?
The good news is that burnout is preventable. One of the most important steps you can take is to refer you or a colleague to our program who you believe is burned out.

Visit www.NDPHP.org to complete our online referral form, or call us at 701-751-5090.

Up to 20% of Healthcare providers will be affected by a mental illness or substance use disorder during their lifetime.