The United States is facing a looming physician shortage. A new report from the Surgeon General warns that the country could be short 139,000 doctors by 2033. The main reason for this shortfall? An aging population, an increasing demand for healthcare services, and crisis levels of burnout among healthcare workers. This news should alarm all of us, as it has serious implications for our health and wellbeing.
Health care workers have always been on the frontlines of care, but in recent years, they have been facing an increasingly difficult battle. Systemic problems in the healthcare system have led to crisis levels of burnout among healthcare workers, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only made these challenges worse.
Physicians, nurses, community health workers, nurse aides, and other health care workers are working tirelessly to fight the pandemic, but they are doing so while facing systemic challenges that make it difficult to provide quality care.
These challenges include understaffing, low wages, inadequate benefits, and stressful working conditions.
The result is a workforce that is exhausted, overworked, and at risk of burnout.
The Surgeon General’s Advisory Addressing Health Worker Burnout lays out recommendations that the whole of society can take to address the factors underpinning burnout, improve health worker well-being, and strengthen the nation’s public health infrastructure.
Health worker burnout harms all of us. The health worker burnout crisis will make it harder for patients to get care when they need it, cause health costs to rise, hinder our ability to prepare for the next public health emergency, and worsen health disparities if we don’t address the issue.
There are a number of recommendations that can help address the problem of burnout among health workers.
- It is important to transform workplace culture to empower health workers and be responsive to their voices and needs.
- Punitive policies for seeking mental health and substance use disorder care should be eliminated.
- The health, safety, and well-being of all health workers must be protected.
- Administrative burdens should be reduced to help health workers have a productive time with patients, communities, and colleagues.
- Social connection and community should be prioritized as a healthcare system’s core values.
- Investment in public health and our public health workforce is essential.
By taking these steps, we can begin to address the problem of burnout among health workers and improve the overall quality of healthcare.
VISTA Staffing and parent company Ingenovis Health have begun a proprietary program to provide clinicians with the tools and resources they need to flourish, grow, and advance their careers. The ACT Program is a collection of efforts and investments to foster their development and well-being.
This program was designed based on feedback from our frontline healthcare workers and was inspired by our appreciation for and commitment to them.
Investments are being made in a number of areas including:
- Wellness and retention
- Service and support
- Training, coaching, and development
- Achievement and recognition
We are looking to inspire a movement by partnering with like-minded healthcare workforce solutions providers to bring a new voice to the challenges facing healthcare providers, particularly travelers.