It’s almost been 22 months since the start of the Covid 19 pandemic. Everyone is feeling this is not going to end anytime soon either. It was back in December of 2020 that the FDA was able to hand out vaccines that had the ability to prevent a lot of Covid related deaths. In fact, with the virus having been around for so long and the fact that so many were infected, it gave scientists a lot of opportunities to come up with different treatment modalities. This is why a lot of people are finally feeling optimistic, except for a particular group of people, the health workers.
Ask any healthcare worker, they will say that the most recent wave of the pandemic is a “never-ending nightmare.” The ICUs are all overcrowded, there are significant staffing shortages, harassment, and even violence have contributed to the burnout of a significantly large proportion of healthcare workers. This was already a problem before the pandemic and after it, things have only gotten worse. It’s important to immediate steps to combat healthcare worker burnout.
What exactly is Burnout?
It is a very well-known problem and burnout has been a topic of conversation in the medical community for a while now. Burnout has been defined as “a long-term stress reaction marked by emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a lack of sense of personal accomplishment.”
It should be obvious that burnout is never really good in any sense of the word, but it is worth pointing out that it is even more concerning when we are going through a pandemic. It can really affect the mental health of healthcare workers negatively and it is, therefore, not at all good for any work environment. There will be a lot more chances of mistakes occurring.
How it is affecting healthcare workers
A lot of reports and studies have been able to confirm that about 18 percent of people engaged in the healthcare industry have gone ahead and quit their jobs since around February 2020. Then there is also the fact that a lot of healthcare workers have also lost their lives due to Covid. The number stands at 3,600 for the United States in 2020 only. These are highly skilled workers who are extremely difficult to replace.
Harassment and violence
The increased cases of harassment and violence as well have also largely contributed to healthcare worker burnout. Even just a year ago, most healthcare workers were considered to be heroes. However, with the incredibly rapid spread of misinformation, these same heroes are now being ridiculed simply because they want to do their jobs properly.
Because of this spread of misinformation, healthcare workers have been getting harassed when dealing with patients whose loved ones do not believe the seriousness or even the mere existence of the disease.
So, you can easily see how this can really intensify the burnout that doctors and healthcare workers are facing nowadays.
Overwhelmed medical services
The pandemic has really overwhelmed an already underwhelming medical system. Never before have we seen a respiratory disease of this magnitude spread across so many people in the world. This is a simple fact, there are not enough trained doctors and nurses who are able to deal with a situation of this kind. Healthcare workers have also been running out of the medical supplies they need to treat patients who have covid. This has also not helped in any way, shape, or form.
Prior to Covid
It also has to be noted here that burnout has long been a problem even before the pandemic started. This is something that really ought to have been addressed prior to the start of the pandemic. They have always had to put in extremely long hours, many conflicting demands from their work itself, and a whole lot more have always healthcare workers a lot more prone to getting burned out.
Other Issues of Burnout
Burnout can cause a lot of difficult problems for a lot of healthcare workers. This can be things like substance abuse, problems with their mental health, and even problems with maintaining their relationships. A study conducted in Canada was able to determine that more than half of their healthcare workers experienced severe burnout during the first six months of the pandemic alone. About a third of them had depressive issues as well.
The Financial Aspect
Healthcare workers, when burned out, also have to really think about the financial impact burnout will have on them. It is not only the doctors that are affected, the whole industry is affected as well. One of the main reasons why healthcare is becoming more expensive is the fact that the industry has been losing qualified people to both recognition, and, shockingly, to suicide.
Burnout of healthcare workers has a really big impact on the community they serve as well. It will, as you can expect, lead to a decline in the quality of their service. The most frustrating part about all of this is the fact that you really cannot do much about anything when it comes to this particular issue. The solutions need to come from a bottom-first approach.