As the healthcare landscape struggles to combat the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, and startling trend is emerging that could put the entire healthcare industry in jeopardy. It’s no secret that the coronavirus pandemic has put a strain on many healthcare workers. However, this strain is impacting healthcare workers more than we realize. Between long shifts, extremely dangerous work environments, and a moving target of safety guidelines, many healthcare professionals are becoming burned out. Healthcare burnout was already one of the biggest issues for the industry, but as the stress rises, so do the dangers when it comes to healthcare workers. Below we’re going to take a look at healthcare burnout during COVID-19 and discuss how the virus could put a serious strain on the industry. Let’s take a look!
Healthcare Burnout During COVID-19
Before we start looking at why healthcare professionals are seeing increased feelings of burnout, or what we can do to prevent it, let’s take a look at some statistics. Nearly three out of five, 59%, of US healthcare workers say Covid-19 has worsened their mental health, according to a survey by KPMG LLP, a US audit, tax and advisory firm. Just this statistic alone shows the mental toll that COVID-19 has taken on health professionals. We’re also seeing statistics that point towards increases in depression, anxiety, and exhaustion that healthcare professionals often bring home.
Another study found that burnout is specifically impacting physicians. Physicians reported the highest rates of burnout at 31.6%, nearly twice the rate of other staff in these practices: 17.2% of advanced practice clinicians, 18.9% of clinical support staff, and 17.5% of administrative staff. These trends point towards the imminent danger of healthcare burnout during COVID-19.
What Is Causing It?
On the surface, it’s easy to point out the cause of healthcare burnout during COVID-19. An increase in patients means a heavier workload, which can certainly cause a ton of stress. However, this isn’t the only issue that health professionals are facing. Not only are we seeing an increase in patients, but we’re also seeing an increase in patients that ultimately might not make it. Death is common in the healthcare industry. However, as the death toll rises, so can the stress and anxiety of facing it every day.
While many health professionals acknowledge the importance of increased pay rates, no amount of money can eliminate healthcare burnout during COVID-19. The extremely vulnerable setting also has created an increase in burnout. Many health professionals fear that they themselves will get sick, or they will bring the virus home to a susceptible loved one. This has created a tough environment and many health professionals are torn between helping others while putting themselves and their family members at risk as well.
What Can We Do?
There are numerous things we can to do help prevent healthcare burnout during COVID-19. While increases in pay are certainly a good start, mandatory time off is also something to consider. Many health professionals feel like it’s their civic duty to help in a time of crisis. While this way of thinking is certainly commendable, overworking can take a serious toll on anyone.
Another way to ease burnout is to have guidelines that aren’t constantly changing. This is an issue that must be tackled at a national scale. We’ve already heard horror stories of health professionals having to reuse PPE or navigate everchanging health guidelines. Having a solid standard set when it comes to healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic will certainly help reduce burnout.
What are some changes you’d like to see when it comes to reducing healthcare burnout during COVID-19? Comment your suggestions below!