This year, I had the opportunity to represent VITAL WorkLife in a leadership roundtable discussion hosted at American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) Annual Conference. The host, the Center for Workplace Mental Health at the American Psychiatric Association Foundation, recently received a 2-year grant from the Brave of Heart Fund focused on creating and disseminating resources to promote leadership support for the mental health and well-being of frontline healthcare workers.
After being surrounded by other leaders and experts on the subject matter, I reflect on the robust conversation addressing the needs of our current healthcare workforce.
We Recognize the Problem, but What Now?
Burnout, stress, strained mental health, lack of time and energy; these are all concerns that existed before the pandemic, but have only been further intensified. Healthcare leaders may be unsure of how to go forward from here—others already may have it figured out. The first step is recognizing the issue, but the next is gathering a data-driven approach because every organization varies.
Every hospital employs a broad population of employees and deals with a broad set of problems—not one hospital is the same. Cultivating a broad, healthy and diverse staff population requires innovative solutions, rather than a “one size fits all” approach.
Next Steps and Moving Forward
Discussion largely focused on combatting the barriers to seeking help, and what programs and initiatives organizations can explore to promote well being.
- A major key to solving healthcare worker burnout and trauma is multiple levels of care. Physicians are more likely to seek peer support, whether internal or external depending on the culture and degree of trust.
- Concerns of privacy continue. Maintaining confidentiality when seeking emotional support is crucial, as there is a common fear of retaliation and how it might affect the healthcare worker’s reputation.
Unique solutions to consider:
- Incorporate and normalize self-care through coaching or mentoring. Move away from a problem-based models to a healthier model of self-care to be included in training, education and onboarding experiences.
- Providing consulting services that can help your organization develop internal resources that may not already be there.
- ALL healthcare workers’ concerns need to be addressed and supported.
- Developing programs and initiatives surrounding peer coaching, with comprehensive well being resources can be incredibly helpful and provides high value for retention.
- Start considering your organization’s return on investment when cultivating programs and initiatives to support the well being of your employees. By doing so, you could be getting a significant ROI if you save one physician.
How do we move forward?
- Leadership must be more intimately involved and aware of what is happening on the ground in their organization, to understand what their workers are experiencing rather than look from afar.
- Consider reallocating budgets not being used to recruit and hire staff to invest in the well being and care of current staff.
- Understand the varying needs of a diverse healthcare worker population. Biases against people of color, LBGTQ+ people and those of different genders are still prevalent within the healthcare field.
By bringing thought leaders together to address these challenges within the industry, we can build and cultivate innovative solutions. Preventing burnout and stress within the healthcare workforce is certainly a long-term battle but working on these challenges as a collective can ultimately save lives.
We Can Help
VITAL WorkLife is here to support and guide you in your own growth to help prevent stress and burnout. For coaching, counseling and other resources contact us at 877.731.3949, through the VITAL WorkLife App or contact us online.