by Cassie Moore, ACNM Writer and Editor
Over the course of her 16-year career, Rebeca Barroso, CNM, has seen a lot of
burnout and attrition among her colleagues. “Of my original five- or six-people
study group of classmates, I’m the only one who’s still practicing,” she says.
So Barroso decided to study burnout among midwives when she entered the Doctor
of Nursing Practice (DNP) program at Frontier Nursing University in 2010. Her
research, which she expects to publish soon, is proving to be highly relevant
to the midwifery community and won her the W.
Newton Long Fund Award from the A.C.N.M. Foundation this year.
To keep her numbers manageable, Barroso surveyed midwives in one state, Pennsylvania,
and got a huge response—78% of ACNM members in that state were willing to talk
“That in and of itself said that it is an issue that is begging to be
addressed widely,” says Barroso.
She used the Maslach Burnout Inventory
questionnaire, which assesses
burnout on three levels: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization (an unfeeling and impersonal
response toward recipients of one's care treatment), and personal accomplishment (or lack thereof).
found that more than half of the midwives surveyed were moderately to highly emotionally exhausted.
“Excessive workloads, having difficulties with child care, and lack of
support contributed toward it,” she says.
Barroso says that burnout is far easier to prevent than it is to fix, and that
she believes midwives need support, recognition, and manageable work schedules
to truly thrive. For any midwife feeling the beginnings of
burnout, Barroso says, “Get help.
Midwives need support, they need people within their own practice groups to
help them, they need support from the other midwives in their locale, they need
support from their affiliate, they need support from their national
organization, they need support from educators. The thing that helps is not to
Have you or any of your colleagues ever felt burnt out? What did you
do about it? How can ACNM support midwives who are burnt out or heading in that
Image “Flame of
Match” used with permission via.