Resilience and Burnout Resources in Respiratory Care Departments.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Respiratory care




BACKGROUND: Burnout is a major problem in health care, with rates of approximately 33% and 50% in nurses and physicians, respectively, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Respiratory therapist (RT) burnout rates and drivers have not been specifically examined. The purpose of this project was to determine resilience and burnout resources available within respiratory care departments and to provide an estimate of pre- and post-COVID-19 RT burnout rates.

METHODS: A survey was developed to evaluate resilience and burnout resources in respiratory care departments. The survey was posted online to the AARConnect management, education, adult acute care, neonatal/pediatrics, COVID-19, and help line communities. Data analysis was descriptive. Key drivers of burnout among RTs were identified from qualitative answers.

RESULTS: There were 221 responses, and 72% reported experiencing burnout. Ten percent of the departments that responded measured burnout; 36% utilized resilience tools, and 83% offered free employee assistance for those struggling with burnout. In January 2020, 30% of departments reported an estimated burnout rate > 40%, which increased to 44% of departments (P = .007) in the COVID-19 pandemic period. The most common drivers reported were poor leadership (32%), high work load (31%), and staffing (29%); 93% of respondents agreed that burnout is a major problem in health care, 33% agreed that burnout is primarily driven by external factors, 92% agreed that RTs have a similar risk of burnout as other health care professionals, 73% agreed that they were comfortable discussing challenging situations with colleagues, 32% agreed that their leadership provided adequate support for those suffering from burnout, and 79% agreed that they would be open to utilizing resilience tools from the AARC or other professional organizations.

CONCLUSIONS: Most respondents experienced burnout and few respiratory care departments measured burnout. Resilience resources were not commonly used but employee assistance and wellness programs were common. Key drivers of burnout identified were poor leadership, staffing, and high workloads.


Health Care Administration