While everyone has been impacted in some way by the pandemic, we can probably all agree that healthcare workers and medical personnel have been at the front lines of this virus from the beginning. In addressing the many challenges of COVID-19: understanding the risk of burnout for medical personnel is so important. And this will likely be the case for many months to come.
With millions of cases across the globe, we have come to depend on medical personnel to help the sick, keep us informed, and keep us educated, all while putting themselves at risk of catching the virus, too.
Across the country, healthcare workers have been working longer, more stressful shifts. You’ve probably seen photos or videos of the marks on their faces from having to wear masks for so long. What we can’t see are the emotional effects this pandemic has caused.
Burnout for medical personnel is a real thing and could happen to anyone in the healthcare field thanks to these stressful, uncertain times.
Many of us wonder, how can the risk of burnout for medical personnel be reduced? What can healthcare workers do to keep themselves not just physically safe, but emotionally and mentally healthy, too?
What Are the Risks?
A recent survey of over 1,000 healthcare workers from 34 hospitals in China found that over 50% were experiencing depression, while 44.6% were experiencing anxiety. Perhaps the most staggering statistic is that over 71% of healthcare workers surveyed said they were feeling distressed.
In the U.S., we haven’t had enough time or research performed yet to determine how this pandemic has affected our medical personnel fully. However, as most of the country has been under some form of “shelter-at-home” order for more than 50 days, we can assume that those 50+ days have all been full of stress and exhaustion for our healthcare workers.
It’s vital to understand that there are many reasons why medical personnel could be experiencing burnout right now, including:
- Longer working hours
- Seeing an alarming number of patients not recover
- Not allowing family or friends to visit the sick
- Worrying about their own health and safety
What Can Be Done to Reduce the Risk of Burnout for Medical Personnel?
When you’re a frontline healthcare worker, it’s hard to simply “take the day off.” Medical personnel is often viewed as heroes and for a good reason. Most of them are eager to get to work helping others and making major strides to combat this virus (and other illnesses along the way!).
If you’re a medical professional or know someone who is, taking care of yourself during these uncertain times is more important than ever. Though you might not get to take time off that you want or deserve, there are other things you can do to reduce the risk of burnout.
Establish a Self-Care Routine
Starting with simple self-care can make a big difference. Find moments throughout the day to practice mindfulness, or take a few calming, deep breaths to relax. Get outside as often as possible when you have a break. Studies have shown that just 30 minutes of being in nature each day can boost your energy and reduce stress levels.
Find a Listening Ear
Most importantly, find someone to talk to.
Having a support group around you during these times can help. It allows you to express your concerns and even “vent” about what you’re going through.
Seek Professional Support
If you don’t want to talk to family or friends, you might benefit from critical incident stress counseling. If there is one thing we’ve all learned from this pandemic, it’s that we need to work together to get through it. Healthcare professionals aren’t immune to that, either.
If you’re in the healthcare field and feel stress pulling on you, feel free to contact me for more information — or to talk. Your mental and emotional health can be (and should be) a priority.
I offer online therapy, so please reach out to me today or visit my page on critical incident stress counseling to learn more about how I can help.