It’s no secret that the pandemic exacerbated the systemic mental health crisis affecting all Americans. The effects on healthcare workers have evolved into a shadow pandemic where profound anxiety and stress-related conditions require immediate support. It’s essential that executive leadership in the field recognize the implications of mental health crises on the industry’s future and implement changes to workplace conditions and culture where mental wellness is prioritized.

The increased physical and mental burden placed on those facing long, taxing hours, limited resources, and emotional, physical, and mental burnout leads to serious implications for physicians, other healthcare professionals, and their patients. Leadership initiatives to recruit and retain healthcare staff require a larger discussion about support and resources to address mental health that are prioritized and seen as a viable investment toward the future success of our healthcare organizations. We’ll look closely at the issue’s complexities, solutions, and long-term opportunities that impact clinician retention strategies.

Clinician Burnout and its Impact on the Healthcare Industry 

According to a survey and report conducted by MHA National, the mental health of clinicians and other healthcare professionals is worse now than during the height of the pandemic in 2020. This falls in line with what psychology professionals understand about how we process catastrophic crises. Still, it indicates a profound demand facing hiring leaders as they plan and prepare for the future of their organizations.

The current climate creates an acute increase in mental and physical burden for healthcare providers. Clinician burnout leads to fears and instances of patient treatment errors and mortality, increased depression resulting in suicidal ideation and substance abuse, and medical malpractice suits. These exemplify the top causes triggering career change and early retirement among the existing workforce. These staffing shortages remain a challenge of great consequence for the future of the healthcare industry. 

Accessible Solutions to Remedy the Mental Health Crisis

Putting patients first at the expense of their own health is common for care-based professionals. It contributes to the reluctance to seek care and is compounded by the stress of understaffed and overburdened facilities. 

Many medical professionals report putting undue pressure on themselves to be indefatigable and infallible in the workplace. They’re reluctant to seek treatment, counseling, or other help because they fear losing their medical license or being reported to a physician reporting agency. A culture that shifts the perspective and helps professionals hold themselves to a more human standard can help staff take steps to seek help sooner and build up their resilience while taking care of their mental health.

Working to eliminate the stigmas surrounding mental illness — whether it’s cultural or self-imposed — is a critical consideration for administrative leadership who are taking steps to address provider wellness and prevent burnout. 

Perceived and actual underlying expectations of medical staff can erode communication, trust, and feelings of autonomy. Identifying ways to provide staff with increased control over scheduling, and investing in development opportunities and collaborative programs are also effective ways to improve well-being and drive staff retention. 

How Healthcare Leaders are Combating Burnout and Promoting Staff Retention

NAM’s national initiative to address healthcare professional well-being is among several sweeping measures to prepare for necessary systemic change. Their goals and priorities align with long-term solutions to the existing crisis. Individual organizations must also commit to inhibiting the instances and effects of burnout. 

There are several ways leaders can better safeguard engagement and prevent burnout.

The following are tactics that are successfully being implemented to better provide valuable resources, targeted support, and long-term support and interventions promoting a significant increase in clinician wellness.

  • Coordinate HR existing processes with well-being efforts
  • Invest in physician leader education to help build the language and understanding necessary to interact with burned-out staff
  • Designate a task force charged with gaining feedback from existing staff to share input for future initiatives to help combat burnout-related mental health crises- crucial conversations and transparency.
  • Create organizational messaging that promotes a commitment to infrastructure improvements and other investments that will expand on available resources
  • Launch mentorship programs and guide physician leaders to communicate transparently and lead productive conversations.
  • Build creative strategies with collaborative committees with input from executive administration, physicians, and other staff 
  • Combat feelings of helplessness with focus groups /town halls that promote transparency and engagement.
  •  Invite teams and individuals to come together to process their shared experiences and compassionately and responsibly dialogue about where to go from there.
  • Centralize decision-making rather than adopting top-down leadership.

The health and well-being of your staff plays a significant role in your organization’s performance, and the commitment to taking care of them on a human level increases your capacity to solve long-term problems. The experts at Polaris Placement have extensive expertise in navigating the healthcare space and helping organizations find long-term solutions to meet their individual needs. Contact us today to learn how we can help your organization increase its bottom line and improve the patient experience.