As the pandemic lingers, healthcare professionals are increasingly burned out, anxious, depressed, and traumatized. According to a Coping with Covid Study in 2020 of over nine thousand physicians across medical disciplines, 50% were burnt out. More recent surveys have even more dire results (1). Studies show that advanced practice registered nurses are experiencing similar levels of burnout (6). Factors contributing to this professional exhaustion include feeling undervalued and not having adequate staffing and support (1, 6). In addition, primary care clinicians are often vicariously exposed to their patients’ traumatic events such as automobile accidents, physical injuries, disasters, and sexual abuse. There is evidence that vicarious traumatic exposure can lead to psychological consequences (2).
Amidst these hardships, healthcare workers are resilient (4). Resilience includes viewing stressors as challenges to overcome, and having optimism, commitment, and adaptability to change (3). To mediate the effects of trauma, healthcare providers can use evidence-based coping strategies such as self-care, social support, and humor (2). As previously discussed in our Holiday Newsletter, practices in self-compassion can also help lower the risk of distress and burnout (4). The APA suggests prioritizing relationships, taking care of your body, and asking for help as some ways to build resilience (5).
Please know that Illinois DocAssist is here to help with our free psychiatric consultation services. We want to provide the support that you need to address challenging pediatric and perinatal psychiatric cases.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH): Through the CDC, NIOSH offers training for healthcare professionals on shift work and long work hours. They are also advocating for policy changes to help support healthcare workers.
Self-Compassion: Drawing on a wealth of research, her personal life story and empirically supported practices, Kristin Neff, Ph.D. demonstrates how individuals can use fierce and tender self-compassion to succeed in the workplace, engage in caregiving without burning out, be authentic in relationships, and end the silence around sexual harassment and abuse.
The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education offers Applied Compassion Training: The ultimate aim of Applied Compassion Training is to prepare people who feel an urgency to bring forth and integrate compassionate action into their occupations, professions, communities and institutions, as well as into their personal development.
American Psychological Association provides resources on how to build resilience.