One in five doctors say they are likely to leave their current practice within two years. Meanwhile, about one in three doctors and other healthcare professionals say they intend to reduce work hours over the next 12 months, according to a recently released survey.
The researchers based their findings on more than 20,000 respondents at 124 institutions across the country. They found that burnout, workload, fear of infection, anxiety or depression due to COVID-19, and number of years in practice were associated with intention to reduce hours. working or leaving, says the article published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings: Innovation, Quality and Outcomes, “COVID-Related Stress and Work Intentions in a Sample of U.S. Healthcare Workers.”
To the researchers’ surprise, COVID-19 burden by county was not associated with intention to reduce work hours or quit current practice. The AMA provided a grant for the study.
“While we predicted that the stress of the pandemic would impact caregivers, the extent of the stress and the percentage of workers considering leaving are concerning,” said the study’s lead author, Christine A. Sinsky, MD, AMA Professional Vice President. Satisfaction.
“Our study demonstrates that American healthcare workers are at risk. If even a third to half of nurses and doctors carry out their expressed intentions to reduce or leave, we will not have enough staff to meet the needs of patients.
Dr. Sinsky noted that physician assistants and orderlies are experiencing some of the highest degrees of COVID-related stress and that healthcare organizations nationwide are struggling to fill physician assistant positions. . This leaves clinics understaffed and adds to the work and stress of the rest of the care team, including physicians.
“To maintain access to patients and prevent remaining clinicians from being overwhelmed, we must stem the loss of healthcare workers,” she said.
Make employees feel valued
This study, along with previous studies on burnout, shows that organizations can take steps to retain employees. For example, data showed that feeling valued was strongly associated with a lower likelihood of reducing hours or leaving.
“Feeling valued by one’s organization reduces the risk that healthcare workers will intend to cut their hours or leave altogether,” Dr. Sinsky said. “In addition to ensuring that workers feel valued, employers can focus on reducing the workload of doctors and staff. »
The study offers some suggestions leaders can follow to help prevent doctors and others from cutting hours or leaving the practice. For example, to help physicians and other healthcare professionals feel valued, leaders in healthcare organizations can provide:
- Transparent communication.
- Child care support.
- Rapid training to support deployment to unfamiliar units, which may demonstrate organizational appreciation for workers.
To combat stress and burnout, leaders can:
- Focus on providing adequate personal protective equipment.
- Create supportive environments.
- Ensure access to confidential mental health services.
- Reduce work overload with better teamwork.
- Apply a systems approach to interventions aimed at improving organizational culture and the effectiveness of practices.
The study authors called for more research to determine whether addressing predictors of burnout and emphasizing mitigators such as positive organizational cultures and ensuring that workers feel valued could avert a potential health workforce crisis as a result of COVID-19.
Determined to make physician burnout a thing of the past, the AMA has studied and is currently addressing the issues that cause and fuel physician burnout, including time constraints, technology and regulation. , to better understand and reduce the challenges that physicians face.
WADA’s STEPS Forward™ resources offer practical strategies to reduce workload and improve efficiency. These include practical toolkits, playbooks, podcasts and webinars. For example, the “Saving Time Playbook” provides tips for eliminating waste from the daily work of doctors and staff. The Getting Rid of Stupid Stuff toolkit explains how an organization can launch a program to solicit and respond to suggestions from frontline workers and the Taming the Inbox toolkit offers practical approaches to managing the inbox, including the volume exploded for many doctors during COVID-19[FEMININE[FEMININE
Focusing on the factors causing burnout at the system level, the AMA assesses the well-being of an organization and offers guidance and targeted solutions to support physician well-being and satisfaction.