Healthcare Workers and Burnout During a Pandemic
Burnout healthcare workers are expressing their discontent across the nation. Read the challenges and how clinicians can stay optimistic.
As tensions rise over vaccine mandates, communities divide over masking requirements in public places and schools, and medical facilities continue to struggle under the weight of COVID patient intake, burnout among healthcare workers may no longer be simply a looming possibility but a foregone conclusion instead.
Burnout Is Impacting Workers Across Industries
While the term burnout is not exclusive to the medical community, its presence as an issue in the workplace for other industries has really only come to light as we continue to navigate COVID. The endless vigilance and stress the general population is experiencing in year two of the pandemic have prompted companies and media outlets to explore the topic.
Some global companies are taking the issue of burnout seriously and attempting to mitigate the eventual negative consequences of a burnout workforce by giving staff time off. Indeed, Nike, LinkedIn, Bumble have all provided their staff with paid time off as a burnout recovery break. Shopify made Fridays no workdays during the summer, and other companies have made similar offers to employees in the name of COVID burnout.
What is Burnout Exactly?
Nevertheless, burnout is more than just a trendy urban term tossed around when we’re tired. The term was actually introduced by Freudenberger, a psychoanalyst, in the 1970s and has specific and wide-reaching characteristics. They are:
- Emotional exhaustion
- Reduced professional efficacy
- Reduced personal accomplishment
It’s no surprise that the healthcare community is experiencing the negative effects of burnout, and while it is great news that some household name companies are giving paid time off to their staff for a little rest and relaxation, that’s not a phenomenon we can ever expect in the medical industry. That means it’s up to us to find ways of coping with our work stress, find outlets for self-care, and re-discover our passion for our careers.
Strategies to Address Burnout
So how can healthcare workers suffering symptoms of burnout stave it off, or prevent burnout from taking root? In October of 2020, a medical journal was published titled “Burnout in Healthcare Workers: Prevalence, Impact, and Preventative Strategies“. It suggests that coping strategies to deal with burnout should include components from the following three domains:
- Relief from stressors
- Recuperation and relaxation
- Abandon perfectionist ideals
So, let’s expand on those domains a bit and be more concrete. If you believe you’re experiencing burnout, analyze your relationships both personal and professional. Persons suffering from emotional exhaustion and/or depression often withdraw from relationships as a result. Withdrawal may feel like a natural response to emotional fatigue however, it only intensifies the harm. Endeavor to connect with your friends, family, or partner outside of work, these relationships do take emotional energy but that can be offset by feelings of joy, happiness, and connection as well as have a grounding effect for you in your non-work identity as a friend, child, partner, parent.
Feelings of underappreciation and frustration in the workplace can overshadow or undermine the value of the day-to-day work tasks you engage in. The medical industry operates in a world that seeks to make a profit parallel to the noble value of providing care for the sick, injured, and/or vulnerable of our communities. You may not be gaining the appreciation you deserve from your management team, nor even from your patients. Practice looking at your work from a different lens; search for the meaning and fulfillment in what you do and hold tightly to that.
Practice self-care and self-compassion. Let go of any ideals for perfection as that goal can only be met with failure. Prioritize adequate time for sleeping, disengage from social media and your smartphone for 30 minutes a day, take walks or an exercise class. Individual therapy is a common recommendation for our patients, yet how adept are healthcare workers at taking their own advice?
Take more control over your work life. Research has shown that an increased autonomy over the work environment and more control over work schedules can have a positive effect on well-being.
Take Control by Working PRN With NursaTM
Registered nurses (RNs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs), certified nursing assistants (CNAs), and other allied healthcare workers can have more autonomy over their work environment and work schedules by working PRN jobs.
The majority of you have likely worked a PRN shift or two for your current facility, nevertheless, have you ever considered the opportunities available to you on a broader level? NursaTM is a PRN platform for healthcare workers nationwide that allows you to take control over your work life, all from your smartphone.
Download our smartphone application and register today. The design is simple due to the fact that it takes a formerly complex process and smooths it out into clear steps:
Create your professional digital portfolio. You’ll upload your resume, references, compliance documentation, vaccination records, and verify your license or certification for your portfolio. This allows you to share your information with potential employers directly through the app.
Browse PRN shifts near you. You may find yourself surprised by the number of PRN shifts that are available in real-time at medical facilities in and around your community. You don’t have to work in the same environment every shift. Changing up your work environment can be good for you to build relationships with new coworkers, and learn new skills.
Apply for PRN jobs directly. Once you’ve determined a shift fits with your desires, i.e. date, time, and pay rate, apply for the shift directly through the app. You can plan out your entire week in this manner, selecting shifts that work around important events in your personal life so that you no longer have to rearrange your personal life around your work schedule.
After a few weeks of PRN work, you may discover you have a new interest in a certain niche, specialty, or type of facility. Perhaps you’ll appreciate that whenever you feel the need for a day (or two) off, you don’t have to ask permission anymore. Talk these interests or discoveries over with your friends or family. Involving them in potential career changes can be meaningful in that it establishes a connection (important for when we feel like withdrawing) and they can help by bringing a new perspective to your attention.