The healthcare field is very demanding as it often requires doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers to put in long hours and remain precise and alert at all times. In addition to the long days and heavy workload, the pressure to achieve near-perfection in every task can be extremely stressful, particularly when a patient’s life is on the line. The pressures of working in healthcare have only increased since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic — healthcare workers are putting in more hours than ever and adding screening, sanitization, and other preventative measures to their normal routines. Although these protocols are necessary and important, most physicians find that it takes them significantly longer to process a typical number of patients — and the number of patients needing to be seen is only increasing.
Pharmacists are also feeling the pressure as the demand for flu shots skyrockets and the number of vaccinations supplied is simply not enough. Dealing with angry customers on a daily basis for something that they have no control over can be extremely demoralizing. Additionally, there are many people who do not believe that the COVID-19 pandemic exists at all. These people are not practicing preventative measures such as social distancing and are just causing the pandemic to get worse. All of this can make healthcare professionals feel discouraged and exhausted, meaning that the risk of burnout is higher than ever.
It’s incredibly important that healthcare workers try to prevent burnout. After all, nurses, doctors, and pharmacists are some of our most valuable resources during this challenging time. If healthcare professionals aren’t able to maintain their own mental and physical health, they won’t be able to properly care for their patients. Here are a few strategies that healthcare workers can employ to prevent themselves from burning out.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
It is widely known that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is useful in the treatment of anxiety and depression, but it can also be beneficial for those who don’t suffer from mental health conditions. CBT encourages people to identify the connections between thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in order to better understand their responses to negative situations.
For healthcare professionals, CBT can be useful when they are dealing with stressful situations at work. If a patient is not doing as well as expected, for example, using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy may help healthcare workers to notice negative thoughts such as “this is my fault” or “I’m not doing a good job”. CBT encourages individuals to observe their thoughts and remind themselves that they are not necessarily true statements simply because they feel true on an emotional level. Therefore, the doctor who is struggling with a patient can remind themselves that they are doing everything in their power to help them and that the patient’s poor condition is not their fault. This can help physicians to avoid getting trapped in negative thought cycles, meaning that they will be less likely to experience burnout.
Mindfulness is another powerful tool that can be used by healthcare professionals in everyday situations. Mindfulness encourages individuals to remain in the present moment, often by focusing on the breath. Although mindfulness is often practiced through meditation, those who develop a regular practice can incorporate mindful moments into their daily routine. Mindfulness can be extremely helpful when it comes to preventing burnout because it allows the individual to quickly check in with themselves both physically and emotionally. Many times burnout occurs because a healthcare worker was simply not aware of the toll their work was taking on them. By using mindfulness, healthcare professionals will be able to tune in to feelings of stress and exhaustion sooner — and be proactive about taking care of themselves.
Work-life balance is not always easy to achieve, but it is incredibly important. One simple thing that any healthcare worker can do to achieve a little more work-life balance is to set clear boundaries between work and personal time. As much as possible, try to leave any worries about patients at work. When physicians spend a large amount of their personal time stressing about work concerns, they are much more likely to experience exhaustion and burnout because their brain never gets a break. Make sure that relaxation and making time for enjoyable activities is a priority.
Self-care is a term that is often misused or misunderstood, but at its heart it’s all about finding balance in life. Exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy diet and sleep routine are some of the most important ways that healthcare practitioners can take care of themselves. Making time for social activities and hobbies is also important, as is finding time to be alone or unwind. At the end of the day, trust those gut instincts — they will always point healthcare workers in the right direction when it comes to taking care of themselves.
Another way for healthcare professionals to prevent burnout is to make work tasks easier whenever possible. Working as a team and leaning on other staff members can be an important part of making healthcare a little easier — never be afraid to delegate or ask for help if it’s needed! Technology also plays an important role in facilitating tasks because medical tech can help physicians stay organized and reduce their daily workload.
Similarly, taking any necessary certification courses online rather than in person is usually less stressful, especially because it allows healthcare professionals to complete the courses on their own time in the comfort of their home. ProMed Certifications allows physicians to take ALS, PALS, BLS and CPR courses online. This is one of the most efficient ways to get certified or recertified, and the courses meet all AHA and ILCOR guidelines. Plus, the 100% money-back guarantee will further reduce stress because healthcare workers can be confident that they will get the high-quality courses they are looking for.
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