Healthcare students weigh workforce options in the face of pandemic and COVID-related burnout – The Arbiter

The long hours and heavy patient loads brought on by the ever-changing face of COVID-19 have fueled a condition known as medical burnout.

Physician burnout is caused by emotional fatigue, depersonalization, and diminished professional success due to understaffing and difficult working conditions.

“Hospitals have had a lot of staff turnover during the pandemic,” said Dr. Amy Spurlock, associate division dean and chief nursing administrator at Boise State University. “Nationally, estimates range between 30% and 70% of healthcare workers suffer from severe burnout.”

On January 20, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced $103 million in awards to meet the nation’s urgent staffing needs.

These awards support proven strategies to help healthcare workers build resilience and respond effectively to a high-stress environment.

[Jordi Gonzalez, nurse manager of the ER, speaks with staff before a shift transition at MLK Community Hospital in Los Angeles, California, on Jan. 13, 2022]
Photo courtesy of Francine Orr, Los Angeles Times

The Public Health and Safety Workforce Resilience Training Program, an HHS award-winning course, is a program designed to reduce burnout within the health profession, including health care students.

“We are fortunate to have exceptional clinical agencies who have worked very hard to ensure that our students have meaningful clinical experiences at a time when they are working under intense stress simply because they have to deal with heightened acuity of patients and an increase in hospitalizations with COVID,” Spurlock mentioned.

Those who work in intensive care units and COVID-19 are at higher risk of burnout compared to other hospital workers.

Because health care students work in unpredictable clinical environments, the burnout rate for these students ranges from 31% to 49.6%.

A junior, dual majoring in nursing and public health at Boise State University, asked to remain anonymous for fear of her position in the nursing program and her future employment.

“I feel like when you go into nursing school you have this idea of ​​what it’s going to be like. I can help and heal people, but it’s morbid,” the anonymous source said. “It’s just very sad.”

The American Association of Critical Care Nurses surveyed 6,000 of its members. They found that 66% had considered quitting smoking because of the pandemic.

Nothing could have ever prepared them for the chaos that COVID has brought.

“This little girl sent a letter to her father, who was intubated. He could still hear even though he was in a coma, so we had to come in and read the girl’s letter to her father,” the unnamed source said. “It was heartbreaking. She knew he was going to die.

Although many doctors are leaving their practices due to the pandemic, others are stepping in to treat people.

“At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, I was a bit cautious about the healthcare path I chose, but now it has made me realize how much I want to step into the field the most. soon as possible,” Brooke Zander wrote. , a freshman respiratory care major at Boise State. “I’ve always wanted to work in healthcare because I love helping people and I want to make sure people are healthy and cared for.”

Although the interventions address medical fatigue, physician burnout is an inevitable outcome as the pandemic persists.

“I think this pandemic has really shown the strength and resilience of every healthcare worker, from nurses and doctors to therapists and CNAs. Each of them has such important work to do, and each of them does it well,” Zander wrote. “Knowing that I will have such a strong support team when I enter the workforce is such a wonderful feeling.”

In the meantime, the search for the most effective solution to medical burn-out continues.

Michael A. Bynum