Burnout in Medical Assistants in the Primary Care: Can Mindfulness be a Solution

Natalee Calais, Abilene Christian University


Burnout is described as feelings associated with emotional exhaustion, depersonalization of patients, and a loss of sense of personal accomplishment and it is unique to healthcare workers. Current research highlights this condition among physicians, nurses, and mid-level providers; however, insufficient research exists regarding the effects of burnout on medical assistants. Research led to mindfulness as a possible solution defined as an intentional regulation of attention and awareness of the present moment. This project sought to see if mindfulness practices could be utilized to mitigate the effects of burnout in medical assistants. It was hypothesized that mindfulness could be a solution. This project featured a pretest/posttest quasi-experimental research design. The seven participants were medical assistants from three different clinics, part of an eight-clinic primary care network. Each of the sites was given a mindfulness activity for participants to complete during their working shift for 10 minutes. The practices were journaling, meditation, or going outside. The researcher gave participants the Maslach Burnout Inventory and Areas of Worklife Survey as pre- and postintervention tests. Paired t tests were conducted, results were analyzed in Excel, and p-values were calculated. Though there was a difference in the pretest and posttest scores for the depersonalization and personal accomplishment subscales, results show that mindfulness activities showed a statistically significant impact in the area of emotional exhaustion and workload.