Understanding Burnout for Travel Healthcare Professionals: Signs, Symptoms, and Prevention Tips

Becoming a travel healthcare professional is a rewarding and exciting experience, but that doesn’t mean it comes without its challenges. Travelers can explore the country doing the job they love, but it means leaving the familiar behind. May is Mental Health Awareness Month and it’s important to recognize the burnout that travelers can face in their careers. Knowing how to recognize the signs of burnout, how to deal with symptoms, and overall prevention tips can be used to help travelers take charge of their mental health not only this month but all year long.


Healthcare Worker Burnout Signs


The World Health Organization classifies burnout as an occupational phenomenon that results from constant workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. Burnout looks different for everyone, but some of the warning signs that you can look for include:


  • Feeling tired and drained most of the time.
  • Withdrawing from responsibilities.
  • Thinking you aren’t successful at your job.


Unfortunately, the signs of travel healthcare burnout are often noticed too late. Healthcare worker burnout is more easily recognized once the symptoms have begun.


Healthcare Worker Burnout Symptoms


Burnout looks different for everyone. Plus, it has a wide range of symptoms that affect travelers physically, emotionally, and mentally. Some of the most common symptoms include:

Headaches: Frequent tension headaches can be a tell-tale sign of burnout. Tension headaches are triggered by stress and can feel like a tight band of pressure all around your head. Getting a tension headache every day or four to five times a week can be a huge symptom of unmanaged stress.

Insomnia: Healthcare travelers experiencing burnout may find it difficult to sleep. Not only that but burnout can lead to lesser quality sleep, resulting in constant exhaustion. Significant changes in sleep patterns are a major cause for concern that should be noted down and discussed with a doctor when they happen.

Prone to sickness: The high levels of stress and anxiety associated with burnout can compromise a traveler’s immune system. Burnout can lead to travelers getting sick more often. Additionally, burnout does not just increase the likeliness of travelers catching a cold or the flu, but also greater illnesses like heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Emotional unbalance: Another symptom of burnout is the emotional turbulence it causes. It can cause reduced empathy towards patients, increased irritability towards friends and family, plus feelings of hopelessness. This can result in travelers socially isolating themselves.

Burnout is more than just a bad day, it’s a chronic state of being. However, burnout is not inevitable. There are habits you can form and things you can do to help prevent burnout.


Healthcare Worker Burnout Causes


Burnout can deeply affect all travel healthcare professionals. One of the best ways to prevent burnout is to understand the causes of burnout. Healthcare workers will cite on average these four things as a main source of stress:

  1. Long hours and unusual shifts, with very little say in scheduling.


  1. A lack of overall organizational support.


  1. An extensive administrative workload in a high-stress environment.


  1. Dealing with death and sickness day in and day out, with little time allotted for processing emotions.


Traveling healthcare professionals deal with all the above, plus a sneaky fifth source of stress: always adapting to new environments.

While some of these stressors may be unavoidable, some actions can be taken to prevent burnout. The first is recognizing the signs and symptoms and knowing when to act. Knowing when to slow down or take a break can be a huge help in preventing burnout.

Prevention Tips

  • Stay connected with friends and family. As a traveler, you may have to constantly adapt to new environments, but your friends and family are always there to support you. Just a phone call away, they can help remind you why you’re on this journey and help you through any hard times.
  • Set boundaries both in your personal and professional life. Set personal limits of what you can and cannot handle. Don’t be afraid to say no to covering someone’s shift or declining to go to a gathering after work if you know that it is going to negatively impact your mental health.
  • Prioritize self-care. Self-care is about more than just bubble baths – it’s about doing things that will affect your overall health and wellness.  This means getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, and exercising your body. Schedule time for things that you enjoy and put yourself first.


Healthcare worker burnout is a serious condition and it’s crucial to be vigilant for any warning signs or symptoms that can develop. By recognizing burnout before it progresses, and actively participating in habits that can help prevent burnout, healthcare travelers can have a very fulfilling career.  If you are ready to start your next adventure, we are here to help. Contact us today to be connected with a recruiter.



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