People, families, and businesses across the United States are still reeling from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. As we enter another respiratory disease season, cases of COVID, the common cold, influenza, and RSV are expected to surge, increasing the rate of doctor’s visits and hospitalizations. The importance of healthcare and emergency workers cannot be understated in times like these; however, many of these essential workers are feeling under-compensated and burnt out.
According to the American Psychological Association, burnout is “physical, emotional or mental exhaustion” that results in a negative attitude, lack of motivation, and decreased performance. Almost 80% of American workers in all sectors experienced increased job stress in 2021, and these stressors are exasperated in healthcare and caretaking professions. Last year in 2022, Arizona was ranked among the top five states with the most short-staffed hospitals.
Staff shortages among healthcare workers began during the pandemic due to increased job burden which led to burnout at all levels of the healthcare delivery system. Avoiding burnout among healthcare workers and caregivers is key because extreme stress can result in errors, reduced quality of care, and decreased patient satisfaction.
A 2023 scoping review on the prevalence of burnout among healthcare professionals and associated risk factors identified the following factors that decrease burnout:
- Emotionally rewarding and meaningful work
- Practicing coginitive empathy
- Increased stress recognition
- High levels of family and social support
- Psychological resilience
- Psychosocial support at work
Burnout is something that affects most working adults, but healthcare workers should take special precautions to reduce stressors and protect their mental health, especially during peak season for respiratory infections. Listed below are resources to help healthcare professionals reduce occupational stress.
Physician Burnout Prevention, Arizona Medical Association: https://www.azmed.org/page/physician-burnout-mental-health-stigma
Arizona Nurses Association Well-Being Initiative Resources: https://www.aznurse.org/page/WellbeingIndividuals
American Medical Association Physician Burnout & Wellness Course: https://edhub.ama-assn.org/course/279
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Resources for Health Care Professionals: https://www.nami.org/Your-Journey/Frontline-Professionals/Health-Care-Professionals