The COVID-19 pandemic has placed unprecedented strain on our healthcare workers. Even before the pandemic, burnout in our nation’s doctors and nurses had reached high levels. One study showed 46% of doctors experience at least one symptom of burnout.
The ICD-11 now classifies burnout as an occupational phenomenon, not a medical condition. Given the pressures clinical providers are under today, how can healthcare organizations still retain top talent even during a time when burnout is so prevalent?
The Current Situation
A recent article in Occupational Health & Safety says that our healthcare workers are in a dire situation and that PTSD, anxiety, and burnout are more common during the COVID-19 pandemic. Because these workers are self-reliant knowledge workers, they may be less likely to ask for help. It’s not just clinical workers; first responders are also struggling these days. The article stated:
“The stress, anxiety, and PTSD many workers face as a consequence of their jobs is a tragic reality for the healthcare system—but with encouragement, support and counseling, we can support those who are on the frontlines.”
Helping Those on the Frontlines
While healthcare organizations can remind clinical providers to take care of themselves with rest, exercise, and good quality nutrition, they must instead focus on the workflows that lead to burnout. We’re experiencing an influx of patients again in a number of COVID hotspots when healthcare providers are already at the end of their ability to cope. Clinical organizations must take steps to mitigate some of the pressures their staff feel. There is simply no other way to help your top talent lessen their stress and avoid burnout.
Focusing on wellness in your clinical team is just the first step. Healthcare providers must also work to optimize workflows that emphasize team support. Reducing any redundancies in administrative tasks and ensuring that your clinical teams have access to the best technologies that make their job easier are all important ways to protect the talent in your organization.
Healthcare leadership must work to support their entire clinical and support staff with rewards that reinforce the necessity of taking care of each other during this crisis. Establishing support programs is critical to this process. Providing frontline workers with a buddy system so that your staff feels more comfortable sharing the difficulties they’re having. Basic support systems, like catering meals or ensuring teams have adequate PPE will continue to be critical in the future. Organizations should also invest in providing additional staffing to ensure that your primary teams can get a break from the front lines that are tearing them down.
This is a troubling and challenging time in healthcare. It is only by working together to support each other that we will be able to stave off and alleviate the symptoms of burnout. UHC Solutions is devoted to helping your organization attract and retain top talent. Talk with our team about how we can help your organization and the teams you serve.