I’m tired.

As an Emergency Medicine physician who worked, at minimum, 200 hours per month during the pandemic, I’m tired. Mentally, physically, and emotionally.  I am burned out.  While not the main reason I started my own urgent care, direct primary care, and telemedicine practice, burn out was a consideration.  

The nurses are tired. 

Many have persevered, but a lot of nurses have watched their colleagues retire, transfer to less stressful work environments, or have left medicine entirely.  Those who remain are often disenchanted, burned out, and have lost their fire for patient care.  

The ancillary staff is tired.  

Registration personnel are verbally abused daily by patients who are upset about wait times.  Environmental services workers have put themselves constantly at high-risk cleaning rooms of post-COVID patients – on top of the usual infectious disease cleaning responsibility.  Radiology staff have been asked to shoulder more responsibility, do more work, and do it faster – with less staff.  

The patients are tired.  

Patients have had to endure long waits in the ER, long waits to be seen by their doctor for routine appointments and are often left frustration because their insurance (if they’re lucky enough to have decent coverage) often doesn’t pay for the treatments needed to get better.  

Everyone in healthcare is tired.  Burned out.  Frustrated. 

We are human.  

We are not robots.  

While we do our best to “suck it up,” put a smile on our faces, and leave the frustrations of our job at the nurse’s station, we all are falling short for our patients.  

Why does burnout matter?  

In short, happy employees provide better patient care.  

Studies show that: 

⁃ Doctors who reports at least one sign of burnout were more than twice as likely to report a medical error within three months

⁃ Higher levels of burnout were also associated with unfavorable outcomes, patient dissatisfaction, and increased patient and family complaints

⁃ Nursing burnout is associated with higher rates of UTI, surgical site infections, decreased productivity – such as increased workarounds with medication administration and absenteeism – and decreased patient satisfaction with their care.

Clearly, you don’t want to be taken care of by a staff full of burned out people.  But, unfortunately, with burnout rates of over 50%, the odds of your care being provided by multiple burned out healthcare workers is astronomical.  

What can you do?

The good news is, as the patient or family, you can do one simple thing that will reduce the burnout and compassions fatigue among staff by doing one simple thing – just saying thank you.  

I can count on two hands the amount of times someone has thanked me for their care in the past two years – and I work a lot with generally high patient satisfaction scores.  I can count the times someone complains about their wait time or their care on two hands within one shift.  

Trust me, it gets old quick.  

The last thing I need after showing up to work and inheriting a department with 25 people in the lobby (in an ER that has about 20 beds and is already holding 10 patients) is to be reminded about the wait time.  I promise, the staff is acutely aware and despises it just as much as the patients.  

What healthcare professionals don’t need is more food.  We are done with pizza, candy, ice cream, and other superficial tokens of appreciation that are compounded upon our already generally poor diets and sleep schedules.  

Just a simple, heartfelt thank you is all it takes.  

Unfortunately, for all of us tired, burned out healthcare workers, that seems to be harder to come by than Domino’s.

Bream Medical is an all-inclusive, non-corporate practice that provides urgent care, primary care, and direct primary care services in Salisbury, Stokesdale, and Edenton, NC, and provides telemedicine consultation anywhere in North Carolina.  We provide excellent healthcare by prioritizing patients care – not profits.  To learn more about Bream Medical, visit https://breammedical.com or call 704.216.1263.

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