This paper reviews the phenomenon of burnout. A standardized definition of burnout does not exist. In 1974, the term burnout was first described and used by the New York physician and psychoanalyst Herbert J. Freudenberger. At that time, he already had realized that persons working in a profession with diverse responsibilities and a high level of social commitment can be considered at high risk for burnout. This compilation focuses particularly on the causes of burnout among members of health and nursing professions. Burnout has a relevant social impact for affected persons. Long-term illness staying away from work and job retraining may be the end result of this condition. Affected nurses, while being highly motivated and very ambitious, fight against their mental and physical ailments for a long time. No earlier than at the
highest level of exhaustion, their inability to work becomes evident. Affected persons rarely terminate their employment relationship by their own. Long-term illness and the current lack of rehabilitation programs in order to restore the physical- and mental health cause high costs of the health and welfare system. An additional focus of this paper are potential preventive measures against burnout in the nursing profession. For the long run, these strategies, if effective, might help to save financial and staff resources. It is important to note that prevention measures are most effective if they are integrated in everyday care.