Still an Epidemic: The Burnout Syndrome in Hospital Registered Nurses

Health Care Manag (Frederick). Jan/Mar 2019;38(1):3-10. doi: 10.1097/HCM.0000000000000243.


The number of registered nurses (RNs) in the United States is roughly 3 times the number of physicians and surgeons, making RNs a critically important component of the US health care system. Registered nurse burnout-the state of emotional exhaustion in which the individual feels overwhelmed by work to the point of feeling fatigued, unable to face the demands of the job, and unable to engage with others-is a real concern, having been reported in many hospitals. The purpose of this research was to examine the causes and consequences of burnout syndrome among RNs in US hospitals and its role in the RN shortage in hospitals. The methodology involved a review of the literature and semistructured interviews. Seven primary databases, 2 websites, and 43 articles were consulted in this project. Findings indicated that burnout syndrome in RNs can be analyzed in terms of 4 clusters of characteristics: individual, management, organizational, and work. The consequences of burnout syndrome have increased RN turnover rates, poor job performance, and threats to patient safety. Burnout syndrome was more prevalent in hospitals with a higher number of patients per nurse and among younger RNs. Registered nurse burnout in hospitals has negatively impacted the quality of care, patient safety, and the functioning of staff workers in the health care industry.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology*
  • Female
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Male
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / supply & distribution*
  • Organizational Culture
  • Personnel Turnover / statistics & numerical data*
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Review Literature as Topic
  • United States