Are Exhausted Healthcare Workers Burning Out, or Being Pushed Out?

Burnout in healthcare professionals has been a topic of conversation for many years. Over time, these stories of exhausted healthcare workers seem to be getting more extreme. Nursing strikes are becoming more prevalent, working conditions are worsening, and hours are getting longer; some physicians are using O2 tanks just to stay functional during a shift. With HCPs showing concerns of being pushed out of their profession, we asked the Figure 1 community for their thoughts about working in healthcare.

Here’s what more than 1,200 healthcare professionals had to say.

Burnout as the New Status Quo

We asked the Figure 1 community what impact burnout is having on their lives. A staggering 87% of respondents said they have felt burned out in the last 12 months. What is most surprising is why. Our respondents shared that it is not over exposure to a medical environment or even long hours creating exhausted healthcare workers, but chaotic work environments with frequent staff turnover and toxic management that leads to burnout. One paramedic stated, “I think there are many factors to burnout, but for me, a toxic manager has been BY FAR the biggest reason for me. To the point that I switched departments!”

When Burnout Affects Your Career

While burnout in healthcare is nothing new, we continue to see more and more HCPs contemplate their career options. When asked if they have considered leaving their job in the last 12 months due to burnout, 69% of respondents said that they had, with 57% saying they’ve considered leaving healthcare altogether. What’s potentially even more concerning is that 73% of surveyed HCPs said they are seeing their peers and coworkers leave healthcare due to burnout.

So What’s The Issue?

Many HCPs agree that burnout is a systemic issue coming from misaligned expectations of administrators in large institutions. One of the largest issues in the eyes of HCPs is that administrative teams seem to continue to grow, while medical staff struggles to maintain enough people to work safely. 

In fact, 78% of survey respondents agreed that hospitals could not improve working conditions without increasing their staff. One respondent noted, “​​Hospitals are too top heavy in administrators. Patient to nurse staffing ratios are unsafe and there is less and less security on acute floors, especially behavioral units.” 

Yes, an increase in pay is needed, and improving charting technologies would be fantastic, but according to the community, what is really driving exhausted healthcare workers away from the healthcare field is unsafe staffing ratios and unrealistic expectations from administrators.

Get a breakdown of the signs of burnout and how to prevent healthcare workers from experiencing it.

What’s The Byproduct?

With many HCPs feeling burned out, many are choosing to leave large institutions for careers in telehealth and at private clinics; some are even leaving the profession altogether. We asked what the most comfortable environment to work in would be for HCPs and over 60% of respondents agreed that working in telehealth or at a clinic offers the best work environment. 

One registered nurse, claiming over 40 years of experience shared that “I now work in an urgent care where I don’t work night shift, I don’t lift or transport [patients] all over the place and my triage and assessment skills are utilized. My back is a mess from all those years of lifting and turning by myself [working in hospitals]. I treasure sleeping at night now. If I had been redeployed to a floor during COVID I would have retired.” With stories like these, it is clear that large institutions need to change if they want to continue attracting workers.

The Solution … According to HCPs

In the eyes of healthcare professionals, the solution is clear. Increase pay, and improve working conditions. Most, if not all, HCPs love working in healthcare. By reading the feedback from the community, it’s  when they are consistently asked to perform at impossible and unsafe levels for little or no incentive that they reconsider the profession. 

One respondent commented that the “most comfortable place to work as a nurse would be in a GP practice that understands the value of work”. While this quote isn’t going to represent the feelings of every single HCP, it touches on an important point, being valued for work. While improving work conditions and pay is crucial, it all comes as a byproduct from ensuring that HCPs are valued for their work. 

One registered nurse puts it best, stating that institutions need to “recognize that our experience and skill is worthy of being treated like an asset that they should be striving to retain if they care about patient outcomes, decreasing complications and lowering readmission rates.”

Published January 30, 2022

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