Mental Health America recently reported that during the pandemic, 93% of healthcare professionals surveyed experienced stress, and 76% experienced burnout.
As a team with a wealth of experience in the healthcare sector, we know first-hand how burnout feels and we’re here to help. Through this article, we explore the complexities around burnout, the symptoms and triggers that Healthcare workers experience, and what individuals can do to make a change.
Burnout, or Moral Injury?
If you feel that the idea of burnout in healthcare professionals doesn’t resonate with your experiences, you are not alone. Burnout can imply that the issue is due to the individual’s inability to cope, but for the majority of healthcare practitioners, it’s our surroundings that are the cause of our stress.
A 2019 paper on clinical distress explains that it isn’t burnout that healthcare professionals experience, but rather, moral injury. The paper describes how burnout indicates that the issue, and therefore the solution, is with the individual. However, healthcare practitioners know that this often isn’t the case.
Alternatively, moral injury is the outcome of our inability to provide adequate support due to external factors. From insurance restrictions to hospital policy, we know what a patient needs, and if we are unable to provide support due to these factors, this goes against our moral compass, and the code we agree to when we enter the profession.
How can you identify if you are experiencing moral injury?
The symptoms of moral injury can include:
- Changes in behaviour, or sleep patterns
- Making mistakes more often
- Compassion fatigue
- Noticeable changes to our habits and routines
- Isolating yourself from others
These symptoms can be triggered by a range of factors, but are most notable when we have to take actions that go against our values. This has been more prevalent during the pandemic. Researchers have seen an increase in moral injury during covid restrictions.
In addition to the typical restrictions we face, we have had to maintain covid guidelines by preventing the attendance of deaths and births for their loved ones and even being required to stay away from our own families to keep them safe. Many of us have also experienced an increase in caregiving responsibilities there too, such as caring for and homeschooling our children.
How can we make a change?
Many US healthcare practitioners have expressed they feel betrayed by the government, their employers, and the healthcare system as a whole. But beyond campaigning for change, it may feel that we are powerless to make a difference.
This is why Stephanie Katz, Director of Seacole Health, and experienced nurse feels so passionately about what we do. By empowering our contractors to decide when and where they want to work, whilst making an impact in the world of science – We put the needs of researchers, nurses and physicians at the heart of our business.
If an alternative career in healthcare isn’t right for you, there are a lot of options out there that can help you in your journey to better wellbeing. Here are just a few:
Resources and support:
- https://therapyaid.org/ Provide free and essential support via resources and therapists to essential workers
- https://www.nami.org/ have a helpline that you can contact at 800-950-NAMI
- https://www.aaets.org/frontline-groups provides online peer support to healthcare workers and first-line responders
- https://www.sleepfoundation.org/shift-work-disorder/tips/coping-strategies Has a lot of resources for coping strategies for those working irregular shifts.
- https://www.healthstandnutrition.com/nutrition-for-shift-workers/ has a lot of advice for how to maintain a balanced and healthy diet whilst working shifts
Interested in an alternative career in healthcare? Find out more