APTA Education Leadership Conference

Document Type

Conference Proceeding





The purpose of this presentation is to address the issue of burnout amongst PTs through the lens that addressing this issue in our profession may very well be the first step in building resilience in the academic and clinical environments.


Physical therapy student well-being is a priority for academic institutions. Yet, are we, as academic and clinical faculty, who are responsible for promoting student well-being, “well” ourselves? Could burnout of our academic and clinical faculty impact our student’s wellness? Burnout is a syndrome described as emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and feelings of decreased personal accomplishment. All effects that can influence our own health, work environment, and relationship with others. During this session, we will review the literature regarding the prevalence of burnout amongst PTs and cite factors that may contribute to burnout. We will describe its effects on the health of the provider, atmosphere of the work environment, student instruction and well-being, and ultimately the quality of care received by our patients. Finally, drawing from current research, we will investigate solutions to mitigate burnout in academic and clinical faculty to promote wellness and resilience.


There is evidence PTs are experiencing a moderate level of burnout at an incidence that, in some cases, is higher than other healthcare professionals. Both job related stresses as well as intrinsic individual factors have been cited as contributing to burnout. This includes factors such as lack of communication and connectedness, diminished personal achievement, time constraints, lack of support from supervisors and colleagues, role conflict and ambiguity, and failure to utilize a task-related coping style. Results show that the effects of burnout can include decreased psychological, physical, and cognitive function, somatic and physical arousal, decreased immunity, morale, and productivity, absenteeism, job turnover, and alcohol and drug abuse. Further, those experiencing burnout develop a negative self-concept, have a poor attitude towards their job including a loss of concern for their patients, co-workers, and themselves. Solutions to alleviate burnout and promote well-being in physical therapists include the use of social network analysis, teamwork, communication, leadership, professional identity programs, targeted work unit interventions, use of rewards and incentives, flexibility and work life integration, and self-care.


As academic and clinical faculty, we are in a position to have a major impact on our students. If we want to promote resilience and well-being in our students, it is important that we ourselves are not experiencing burnout and are role-modeling strategies that promote resilience. The effects of burnout are significant and will not only take their toll on our own health but also can influence our relationships with our students. It is important that when building resilience in the academic and clinical environments, we address the needs of both the faculty and the students.