Healthcare workers are facing a multitude of challenges right now, the least of which is staff burnout. According to a poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 30% of healthcare workers surveyed were considering leaving their jobs. In addition, a whopping 60% of those surveyed stated that stress due to the pandemic had harmed their mental health.
Amidst all the change and uncertainty in the healthcare industry, one thing remains certain: Healthcare workers across the United States increasingly feel burnt out and overworked, and they need help.
What Causes Staff Burnout?
Burnout, as first defined by German-American psychologist Herbert Freudenberger in the 1970s, is made up of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a decreased sense of accomplishment.
It’s no question that burnout has contributed to the healthcare worker staffing shortages that took place both pre- and post-pandemic. While it’s normal for everyone to feel some sense of burnout at some point in their personal or professional lives, these feelings are not sustainable long term. If left unresolved, burnout can lead to mental health struggles, personal and professional dissatisfaction, and other issues.
Burnout among healthcare workers was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic but has also been caused by many contributing factors, including:
- Lack of efficiency in clinical workflows, administrative tasks, etc.
- Feeling undervalued
- No longer seeing the value in one’s work
- Increasingly demanding tasks without the resources to support
- Staffing shortages in hospitals, clinical offices, and more
- A persistent feeling of lacking control
How Can Healthcare Workers Reduce Staff Burnout?
One of the contributing factors of burnout is not seeing the value in one’s work anymore. Feeling underappreciated can originate from stress, being overworked, or an internal barrier brought on by external factors.
Reducing or eliminating burnout is not usually something that can be done on a whim. However, there are strategies healthcare workers can leverage to reduce stress and improve their mental and physical health, like:
- Taking enough time off to recharge
- Seeking support from family, friends, or colleagues to mitigate feelings of loneliness
- Practicing meditative or therapeutic techniques, like yoga or breathing exercises
- Continuing to take care of one’s physical and mental health
- Finding resources, like books or podcasts, that provide guidance for similar struggles
Another way that healthcare staff can reconnect with their profession could be by rediscovering what inspired them to pursue a career in medicine to begin with or finding their meaning.
According to Emily Nagoski, Ph.D. and Amelia Nagoski, DMA in “Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle”, “’Meaning’ is a power you carry inside that helps you resist and recover from burnout.” They go on to say, “Positive psychology, as spearheaded by Martin Seligman, includes ‘meaning’ as one of the main elements that promote happiness in people who are otherwise healthy. Other research approaches meaning as a coping strategy for people who are recovering from illness and trauma.”
Steps Healthcare Organizations Can Take to Support Clinical Staff
Combating issues like staffing shortages and increased demand for care management is not easy to navigate, but there are solutions available that can ease provider workloads and allow care managers to work smarter, not harder.
Outsourcing a team of Virtual Care Navigators (VCNs) to cover chronic care management (CCM) or transitional care management (TCM) can be incredibly beneficial since these workflows typically require an abundance of resources to cover each process. Resources supporting these efficient workflows can be available through programs like Lightbeam Clinical Services or other digital care management solutions. Another way to streamline provider workloads is to find or develop a solution that can automate patient outreach and conduct check-ins remotely, such as Deviceless Remote Patient Monitoring®.
Giving teams the resources they need to perform top-of-license is crucial for reducing burnout among the provider, nurse, and care manager populations. Organizations can do their part by seeking alternatives to traditional care management models that limit the reach of providers and reduce accessibility to vulnerable or at-risk patients.
To learn more about how Lightbeam Clinical Services helps healthcare organizations reduce administrative burdens, reach more patients, and ease healthcare staff burnout, you can watch my webinar hosted with Jessica Scruton, BSN, RN, CCM-R.
By Briana Rodriguez, BSN, RN, CHPN
Manager, Clinical Programs