Book Review: Burnout in Healthcare—A Guide to Addressing the Epidemic, by Rajeev Kurapati, MD, MBA

Simple steps for recognizing and eliminating burnout

By Daniel Lander, ND, FABNO

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Book reviewed: Kurapati R. Burnout in Healthcare: A Guide to Addressing the Epidemic. Sajjana Publishing; 2019.

When the editors at Natural Medicine Journal asked me to write a book review, my initial thought was, “I don’t have time to read a book right now, let alone review one!” The glaring irony that the book was on burnout was not lost on me, however, and I decided that this would be a timely opportunity to reexamine my own current level of burnout.

Burnout has reached epidemic levels in the healthcare field, with 80% of physicians reporting that they’re overextended or at capacity.1 Like many healthcare providers, my job only seems to get more demanding, and I often feel overwhelmed with the number of tasks to complete and decisions to make each day. I have been interested in the process of burnout for some time, and I have looked extensively into the research on physician burnout—primarily in my area of oncology. Unfortunately, awareness and even interest in the topic are, in and of themselves, not enough to guard against burnout.

Despite this being a particularly busy time for me, I am glad that I made time to read this very helpful book. Kurapati most certainly had his audience in mind when he wrote it. The book is concise (under 100 pages) and easy to read, without any unnecessary technical detail or jargon. He does not waste time going into complex theories and abstract concepts and has, instead, written a very practical manual that focuses on how to recognize burnout and eliminate it. While this style of writing may run the risk of oversimplifying a complex topic, anything else runs the greater risk of losing the burned-out reader before being able to offer any help.

Kurapati spent time interviewing several healthcare professionals with burnout in preparation for writing his book. He uses these stories to help illustrate the diverse ways that burnout can present in different people. In the final chapter, he then takes this idea a step further and discusses specific strategies to address the different types of burnout. He breaks up sufferers of burnout into 3 main categories:

  • Those who like what they do but feel there is too much “shadow work” to manage
  • Those who like what they do but who no longer have time for other passions because of their workload
  • Those who used to like what they do but no longer do

What I liked most about Kurapati’s book is that it does not get too caught up in the problem of burnout and focuses instead on the solutions. He presents a clear, step-by-step process, asking the reader specific questions and then laying out practical steps to take to change one’s situation. He addresses changes that both organizations and individuals can implement, making it a useful book not only for providers but also for administrators and policy makers.

My only criticism is that this book, despite the title indicating that it covers burnout in healthcare professionals in general, focuses mostly on physicians and somewhat on nurses. While this is where Kurapati can speak from his personal experience, it would have been nice to bring in more stories of other types of healthcare workers to keep the book more widely applicable. That being said, I would recommend this book to anyone working in healthcare—not just those currently feeling burned out but all who are at risk, which is all of us.

About the Author

Daniel Lander, ND, FABNO, is a naturopathic doctor with board certification in naturopathic oncology. He is a graduate of the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM) and also holds a bachelor of science in nutritional sciences from the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada. His clinical training included a hospital-based residency at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America. He is currently an associate professor at CCNM and the director of the CCNM Integrative Cancer Centre and presently serves on the board of directors of the American Board of Naturopathic Oncology.

References

  1. The Physicians Foundation. 2016 Survey of America’s Physicians: Practice Patterns & Perspectives. https://physiciansfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Biennial_Physician_Survey_2016.pdf. Published September 2016, Accessed November 20, 2019.