Self-Care for Practitioners

Self-Care for Practitioners

Work-Life Balance
What's Changed for Clinicians due to the Pandemic?

With CHG Healthcare's 2121 survey indicating that (86%) of clinicians want work-life balance (1), it begs the question... What does work-life balance mean to you personally and professionally? What would it take for you to achieve it? It’s important to consider self-care for practitioners.

For the past two years, the pandemic comes first, and everything else follows. It has affected work and life in ways that we could have never imagined beforehand. Researchers were eager to survey the public about the impact of the pandemic on everyday living, but even more were interested in surveying those in the line of duty, particularly those working in healthcare.

In mid 2020, the American Medical Association (2) conducted a survey of nearly 21,000 physicians and healthcare workers (3400 and 17,000 respectively) from 42 health care organizations across the U.S. to determine worker stress during the pandemic. They found that:
    • 61% highly feared exposure to themselves and their families
    • 49% had burnout
    • 43% suffered work overload
    • 38% experienced anxiety or depression

A Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation survey(3) of 1300+ front line U.S. healthcare workers in 2021 revealed that:
    1. 55% reported burnout (69% among youngest staff ages 18-29)
    2. 62% had some mental health repercussions

rocks stacked on top of one another over mountain top

While there is evidence-based literature suggesting ways to address the multiple psychosocial effects we've had to the pandemic in general (such as those now in NSHC's Blog: Self-Care for Practitioners), how has the pandemic affected each of us individually and why? With self-help ideas in mind and these effects lingering, it's best for each of us to discover what concerns us the most about it. But, how does one go about doing this?

It's similar to what Marshal Matt Dillon would say to a trouble-causing cowboy in Gunsmoke (the longest running western TV series of all time) who was hesitant to tell the Marshal everything he knew about a 10-man brawl in the Long Branch Saloon. The Marshal's edict was, "Say it out."
Being able to express ourselves verbally or in writing about how the pandemic has affected our work and life personally then and now can produce immense healing on our path to achieving better work-life balance (4).

The National Society of Health Coaches suggests that we stop to ask ourselves some thought-provoking questions, using the same tenet the Society teaches clinicians to use with patients who are self-discovering their own end game, yet for a different reason: As you consider your personal answers to these questions, "Say it out." 

    1. What about the pandemic was most disconcerting to me?
    2. What were the silver linings that emerged personally for me and/or my family?
    3. Describe my worst day of work during the pandemic.
    4. Talk about the best work day I experienced during the pandemic.
    5. How did my work during the pandemic allow my light to shine for others, if only a little?
    6. On a scale of 1-10, with one being the least satisfied and 10 being the most satisfied, how satisfied am I with my work now? Why?

Consider this self-care for practitioners tip. If you haven't tried an exercise such as this, give it a go to see if there are revelations you discover about yourself. It could be a tremendous help in your search for a meaningful work-life balance!

(1) CHG Survey. (April, 2021). Healthcare career satisfaction drops, burnout rises amid COVID-19. 
(2) Prasad, K. et al. (May, 2021). Prevalence and correlates of stress and burnout among U.S. healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic: A national cross-sectional survey study. The Lancet (E Clinical Medicine). 
(3) Kaushik, D. (June, 2021). Medical burnout: Breaking bad.
(4) Dreher, D. (June,2019). Why talking about our problems makes us feel better. Psychology Today.

Learn More:
Clinician Careers
Stress and Anxiety Tips for Healthcare Coaches