The Impact of Burnout Syndrome on Practitioners Working within Rural Healthcare Systems


Burnout syndrome (BOS) affects up to 50% of healthcare practitioners. Limited data exist on BOS in paramedics/firstresponders, or others whose practice involves trauma. We sought to assess the impact of BOS in practitioners of rural healthcare systems involved in the provision of trauma care within West Virginia.


A 3-part survey was distributed at two regional trauma conferences in 2018. The survey consisted of 1) Demographic/occupational items, 2) The Mini Z Burnout Survey, and 3) elements measuring the impact, and supportive infrastructure to prevent and/or manage BOS.


Response rate was 74.7% (127/170 attendees). Respondents included emergency medical services (EMS) (44.9%), nurses (37.8%), and physicians (9.4%). Overall, 31% reported BOS – physicians (45.5%), EMS (35.1%), and nurses (25.0%). Most agreed that BOS impacts the health of medical professionals (99.2%) and presents a barrier to patient care (97.6%). Those with BOS reported higher stress (p < 0.001), chaos at work (p < 0.001), and excessive documentation time at home (p < 0.001). Fewer respondents with BOS reported job satisfaction (p < 0.001), control over workload (p = 0.001), sufficient time for documentation (p ≤0.001), value alignment with institutional leadership (p = 0.001), and team efficiency (p = 0.004). Unique factors for BOS in EMS included: lack of control over workload (p = 0.032), poor value alignment with employer (p = 0.002), lack of efficient teamwork (p = 0.006), and excessive time documenting at home (p = 0.003).


Burnout syndrome impacts rural healthcare practitioners, regardless of discipline. These data highlight a need to address the entire team and implement occupation-specific approaches for prevention and treatment. Further prospective study of these findings is warranted.