A large number of healthcare workers have left the medical field — leaders need to focus on caring for their staff.
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic changed the world as we know it, impacting the way we do business, how we spend our money, and where we spend time. Unfortunately, it also strained the U.S. healthcare infrastructure to its breaking point, pushing thousands of healthcare workers to burnout. In fact, 30% of frontline healthcare workers and 43% of nurses say they're considering leaving their jobs.
With so many medical professionals and nurses leaving the profession during the Great Resignation, healthcare facilities have had a difficult time maintaining the influx of patients. This has put a strain on resources and remaining personnel. Because there's more stress in the medical profession than ever before, your healthcare staff is likely experiencing unrelenting demands on their time. In this landscape, it's important to support staff so that they can continue to care for their communities.
Care for Your Staff, Care for the Community
Already, some states are taking action to develop new healthcare systems and realign their resources to account for the need for healthcare workers. According to The Hill, Hawaii released a plan to revamp crisis care standards in September, and Tennessee announced that it's restricting the use of certain COVID-19 treatments to unvaccinated individuals.
How will the medical field change in the future in light of these changes? In short, support in the workplace will become even more critical. If you want to keep providing care for your community, you must learn how to support team members. Luckily, there are a number of ways your healthcare facility can step up to this task:
1. Show your staff that you appreciate them.
When it comes to showing appreciation, actions speak louder than words. You could consider hosting an appreciation luncheon, sending your staff Starbucks gift cards, or ensuring there's time for personnel to run errands during long work hours.
One Denver community developed "Lunches for Clinicians," an effort that allows medical workers to order lunches from local restaurants (which are then paid for by the community). No matter what you do, your team members will appreciate the tangible way your facility demonstrates its thankfulness.
2. Ask employees what matters to them, then deliver.
With so much stress in the medical profession, healthcare workers are facing myriad unforeseen challenges and struggles. Because you might not know the best move to make, consider surveying or regularly checking in with staff to find out what they need. If there's a solution you can provide, follow through.
One common demand right now is for telehealth services. According to research by Aisha Siraj, Negar Salehi, and Saima Karim, healthcare workers strongly prefer using telemedicine technology because of how contagious the coronavirus is. With such an overwhelming call for virtual care capabilities, you should find ways to implement new technologies and processes when possible.
3. Prioritize medical professionals' mental health.
Research says the stress of the pandemic has had a severe impact on people, which is a cause for concern. Your frontline workers are under extreme strain, and if they feel like they're not being supported at work, it can negatively affect their mental health.
Find ways to support staff by offering time off when needed, allowing breaks for healthy activities and meals, hosting educational seminars on stress management techniques, and partnering with a mental health benefits provider. Be sure to also share resources with them, such as the Physician Support Line, meditation and sleep apps such as Headspace, and online tool kits like those provided by Mount Sinai and UNC Health.
To show your staff support in the workplace and help them perform even under stressful circumstances, you must go out of your way to show your appreciation, listen to their needs, and prioritize their mental health. The COVID-19 pandemic has been an extremely challenging time for everyone. By learning how to support team members, you can enable your medical staff to better care for their community.
Marlene Sheehy is a registered nurse and the vice president of strategic development at Marquis Health Consulting Services, which provides administrative and consulting services to skilled nursing facilities throughout the continental United States. At Marquis centers, highly motivated staff provide patients with progressive, innovative care and inspire residents to live life to the fullest by facilitating an active, exciting, and warm environment.