With the COVID pandemic past the crisis stage and with the caveat that the disease is still with us, it’s time to take stock of ourselves and our organizations.
Given all the medical profession has been through—from pre-pandemic burnout, through the early days of pandemic and issues up to the present—what does the healthcare industry look like now?
Physician peer coach Dr. Susan Wilson has observations to share on that topic. “For one thing, virtual health, telehealth, has become huge,” she says. “We're learning you don't have to be somewhere physically to get things done. On the other hand, I like the idea of being face-to-face and hands-on with my patients—but be that as it may, telehealth is a big part of the new normal. I also think we’re going to be masked all the time now. It takes away from the physician-patient relationship and adds anonymity. But it’s something we’re going to have to adjust to.”
The stressors of resignation and short staffing are going to be with us for quite a while, she adds, along with a politicization of healthcare that was spurred on by COVID. “At times it’s led to people becoming very aggressive and angry, even acting out against healthcare professionals.”
The Need for Support
According to some estimates, PTSD among practitioners is higher than before the pandemic—“About 11 to 16 percent before COVID and something like 22 percent now,” Dr. Wilson says. “I think there is more and more awareness now on the part of leadership that we need to do more to support all our healthcare professionals as the new normal unfolds. Peer-to-peer support in particular is really important.”
It’s a challenging picture. But in our article, Post-Traumatic Stress to Post-Traumatic Growth (PTG), Dr. Wilson offers a hopeful framework for understanding where we may be going. She explains the concept of Post-Traumatic Growth—the ability to thrive because of, not in spite of, the struggles of the past and present. Learn about how PTG could make the new normal better for everyone.