Healthcare Provider Burnout

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Healthcare provider burnout

Healthcare workers are retiring early and cutting hours due to healthcare provider burnout.

Healthcare Providers are Burned Out 

Physician burnout was a “thing” long before Covid 19 exposed millions of Americans to severe illness and death.

Undoubtedly Covid hastened the early retirement of many physicians as a result of healthcare provider burnout. The decision to retire came from healthcare providers not wanting to take the health risk, and from physicians with practices nearly shut down from a loss of patient volume. At the same time, beds in the hospitals were full.

Before Covid, physicians were burned out from the bureaucracy of practicing medicine. Healthcare decisions were based on insurance reimbursement protocols, potentially stifling the quality of patient care.

Then came Covid, and many healthcare workers began working around the clock to sheer exhaustion while also neglecting to spend time with their families. Some healthcare workers purposely separated themselves from family while not working.  They did not want to take chances exposing family members to Covid.

Covid has become endemic and is here to stay.  People seem to have adjusted to being a little more cautious about behaviors they wouldn’t give a second thought to in the past, but overall, things are slowly approaching what feels more pre-covid normal. So, now what?

Healthcare Workers are in Short Supply

Burnout remains. The problem with healthcare provider burnout was the additional attrition of healthcare workers when healthcare workers were already in short supply.

Hayman Daugherty Associates, Inc. has been recruiting physicians for over thirty years. During the last thirty years, Hayman Daugherty has never witnessed a time when the US did not have a shortage of physicians.  Yes, there have been ebbs and flows of physicians within certain specialties.  During the early nineties, anesthesiology training programs opened more residency training spots resulting in an influx of anesthesiologists a few years later.  HDA is now seeing a return to the demand for anesthesiologists, which has created an even more acute demand for certified registered nurse anesthetists.

How can we address the shortage of healthcare workers during a time of burnout and mass exodus from the field?

Something is better than nothing. Right? The approach to this healthcare staffing crisis is to provide current healthcare employees with more options for work flexibility.  Offer part-time work, although full-time providers are desperately needed.  Try to provide your staff with the chance to take a sabbatical for a month or two.  Allow them to recover from the terrible day and night “save the world” shifts they were working.

It’s better to have less healthcare provider coverage from your fully employed team than no coverage in the future. It’s also a good idea to continue to recruit and interview no matter how many providers you currently have.

Locum Tenens and Travel Nursing are a Solution to the Healthcare Provider Shortage

In the meantime, Locum Tenens Staffing firms and Nurse Staffing firms can bridge the gaps in coverage until we, as a nation, can train more providers and normalize healthcare coverage once again. Locum Tenens and Travel Nursing are a solution to healthcare provider burnout and the healthcare provider shortage.

Healthcare facilities may be asking, why?  Why do healthcare providers prefer to work through a locum tenens staffing agency or a nurse staffing agency versus accepting a job full-time with a facility?

There are ample reasons for providers to choose locum tenens and nurse staffing agencies over regularized employment.

Some of these reasons are the amount of flexibility in working through a staffing agency versus full-time.  Many healthcare providers are keen on making their schedule versus someone else making it for them.  They consider themselves to be “solopreneurs.” If they want to work, they do.  If they don’t, they don’t. Other healthcare providers are less concerned about flexibility and more motivated by the money.  This is especially true with some nurse travelers.  The money-motivated nurses will not accept anything under ninety dollars an hour which is more than double the employed pay rate.

The question becomes, “why not?”  Why not earn double the pay to work half the time?  It makes sense, right?  For some, yes.  But others have families and children at home and participate in school events, sporting events for the children, or simply do not like being away from home.

Locum Tenens and Travel Nursing is often a Short-Term Career Path

Locum tenens physicians are more often locum tenens physicians for only a part of their career. How does being a locum tenens provider help reduce the healthcare providers’ burnout?

What are the additional motivators for physicians and other healthcare providers to work locum tenens?  Physicians newly minted from a residency program are often unsure of the location or type of work environment they want to settle into eventually.

Working in locums is an opportunity to explore different geographic areas of the country.  Perhaps they have always wondered what it would be like to work and live in Oregon?  Locums’ work provides the opportunity to find out.

Some newly graduated residents are unsure if they want to work in an inpatient or outpatient environment.  Do I want to be an employee of a hospital system, or would it be better to be a partner in a small practice?  These are some of the questions a newly graduated resident may ask. The answer lies in taking locum tenens assignments to experience the different scenarios and make a better life-long career decision.

Physicians and other healthcare providers approaching retirement begin to question their ability to stop practicing medicine altogether.  They wonder, “would it be better to work half or a quarter of the time, enjoy the flexibility of my schedule by spending more time with my family?” “Can I ward off the evils of boredom while working some of the time?”  The answer to that question is an obvious “yes” to many semi-retired physicians.  They enjoy a softer landing to full retirement. In contrast, others look forward to a complete abrupt stop practicing medicine.

When will our nation stop the cycle of healthcare provider burnout and reach the supply and demand equilibrium of physicians and healthcare providers versus open jobs?

Likely, never.

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