Preventing Healthcare Worker Burnout on the Path Toward Nationwide Healing

Across the United States today, true heroism is displayed by our healthcare professionals. From the wounds and illnesses they treat to the compassion they show each patient, healthcare workers dedicate their lives to improving quality of life and devising safer, more effective care programs for patients of all walks of life.

As the nation continues to navigate the unprecedented and profoundly devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the medical system, healthcare workers remain on the frontlines, committed to providing their lifesaving care and support to those in need of it most. This is no small sacrifice, which is why it’s important for communities as a whole to work together to protect medical staff and help prevent healthcare worker burnout.

What Is Healthcare Worker Burnout?

When we talk about “healthcare worker burnout,” a number of different consequences should come to mind. Think about what it would mean for your health to be treated by an exhausted healthcare provider. What would the quality of your care be, and how would this affect your short- and long-term well-being as a patient? 

“Burnout” is a term used to describe the impact of long-term exposure to high levels of stress on employees. This sort of exhaustion has the power to affect the entire body – physically, intellectually, and emotionally – and can result in a rise in problems for medical staff, both at work and at home.

Having patients with complex needs, dealing with supply and personnel shortages can all contribute to healthcare worker burnout. As a result of these challenges, staff may experience increased levels of stress and anxiety that can make it impossible for them to do their jobs well and offer the highest quality of care. 

Preventing Burnout

If you’re a healthcare professional or the director of a medical institution or clinic, there are a number of ways to reduce and prevent healthcare worker burnout. Doing so will create healthier, happier employees who will be better prepared to support patients and give them the care they deserve.

Implement employee support and wellness measures. Patients will suffer when healthcare personnel are prevented from performing at their best. Create anonymous surveys or a safe space where employees can make their voices heard – and always strive to address these concerns with understanding and a collaborative mindset. 

Facilitate a more flexible work environment. In the era of COVID-19, the health and safety of both employees and patients should be a top priority. Allowing staff opportunities to telecommute or to take time off for family or mental health needs when possible will allow workers to recoup. 

Acknowledge and uplift healthcare staff. Create a work environment that inspires your healthcare workers. Acknowledging employees and rewarding them for their accomplishments will boost morale and help prevent healthcare worker burnout from impacting your staff and patients.

Get creative! We have heard from several directors of free and charitable clinics that they have been getting creative to support their staff and volunteers wellbeing.  Examples include going on a fun field trip, hiring a masseuse occasionally to provide staff with free massages, providing lunch or fun snacks from time to time as a treat.  

Encourage volunteerism. Giving back to those in need is a great way to get a boost of energy. Volunteering at free and charitable clinics and pharmacies can be a truly rewarding experience.

Building trustworthy relationships amongst employees and making work environments as flexible and understanding as possible are the keys to reducing employee burnout. At the NAFC, we’re committed to assisting free and charitable clinics and pharmacies across the United States provide better support to patients – and this work begins with healthcare workers.  We can all make a difference by showing compassion, kindness and patience to our healthcare providers!

To learn more about the work we do at the NAFC or to read more resources, visit our website today.