While we hear so many stories of burnout and exhaustion, we also hear about some things that are better since we have been forced to re-think how we care for patients.
The holidays seem like a great time to focus, just for a minute, on some of the good things that have emerged from our time of tragedy.
Dr. John Bonamo, Chief Medical and Quality officer at RWJ Barnabas Health shares his opinion about some positive things that have emerged in the past two years:1
- The pandemic forced us to figure out how to do telehealth and do it well. Today, providers continue to see patients from their homes thousands of times each week.
- We are much more focused on sanitizing ourselves, our spaces, and even the air that we breathe.
- Teamwork and flexibility inside the hospital walls has grown significantly. When the stakes were high, healthcare workers came together as a team to provide the best care to millions of patients during the pandemic. We now see that we are a lot stronger together than we are as individuals.
- Our focus on racial disparity and mental illness has grown. We know the pandemic was difficult for everyone, but we know more than ever that some of our population needs help but cannot access it.1
Some who have stayed true to healthcare through the pandemic feel the love from their communities, as many healthcare institutions now have signage that reminds the public that heroes work within their walls.
But, while there are a few bright spots in healthcare, those providing the bedside care feel unappreciated, underpaid, and overworked. Many healthcare workers have left the profession since 2020, and we now see that “the pipeline of new doctors and nurses alike is insufficient to meet the growing demands of 2022 and beyond.”3
A recent survey showed that “more than one-third (34%) of nurses say it's very likely that they will leave their roles by the end of 2022 and 44% cited burnout and a high-stress environment as the reason for their desire to leave.”3 The American Nurses Association, in an attempt to decrease the nursing shortage we are facing, has “outlined the following steps health systems can take to support their nursing workforce:
- Organizations should provide clear career advancement opportunities, skill growth and training
- Organizations should offer more flexible scheduling options.
- Health systems need to offer competitive pay, encourage better teamwork and transparency, and offer stronger management training.”3
Dr. Laura Forese of New York-Presbyterian says it well:
“Healthcare is very rewarding, but fundamentally it’s a tough business. We see tremendous amounts of burnout. One of the things that we know will really combat that is when people feel appreciated.”2
Chief Healthcare Executive, Anne Dabrow Woods4 feels that health systems need to better prepare new nurses. She states “Healthcare organizations need to spend more time training young nurses. Many don’t get the training they need when they start and throw in the towel.”
She also said “as many as 24-30% of new nurse graduates who enter a healthcare organization leave after the first year. They feel like they’ve been thrown into a situation, they weren’t adequately supported.”4
Newer staff desperately want to do a good job, but it is true that less experienced staff can increase the risk of errors and decrease quality care. Training is essential to build and maintain competence and confidence when caring for acutely ill patients. And that training must become the responsibility of every healthcare worker.
Faculty, like providers, are overwhelmed and understaffed. There are not nearly enough teachers to safely lead the way for new nurses and doctors to provide competent care.
The whole Limbs & Things family of worldwide employees wishes all our healthcare providers peace and rest during this holiday season. We will continue to produce the kind of task trainers that enable you to deliberately practice and master the skills you need to feel competent and appreciated. We thank you and those that teach you from the bottom of our hearts. We hope you have a blessed holiday season and know that we will be here for you.