COVID-19 & Burnout: Going the Distance for Patients Means Caring for Self
COVID-19 has changed the dynamic of medicine over the past several months. During these unprecedented and uncertain times, you may have found yourself faced with difficult cases and adverse outcomes that have been hard to forget. Maybe you have been required to work long hours, wear PPE, and change the way that you interact with patients, especially those who have struggled because of COVID-19. At the end of the day, do you go home wondering how you are going to manage through another day? Do you wonder if it will ever get better for you and your patients? Well, you are not alone.
Through it all, we, as providers, often put our own lives and well-being on hold while caring for those with coronavirus. The one thing we can’t forget to do is to take care of ourselves.
There should be no shame or guilt about becoming overwhelmed. We are a profession that takes pride in the way we provide care for our patients; and it is natural to feel pain over those that we have lost. We need to make it a point to take time for ourselves. There are resources available to help providers experiencing burnout. In addition, most people have access to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that can get you in touch with the help that you need.
There was an article about an ER doctor in New York that became so overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases and the number of patients that she lost, she was unable to cope, and she ended up taking her own life. Remember, you are not alone. Being a provider doesn’t mean we are superhuman or that we are without emotion. Provider burnout and PTSD are real and impacting our profession right now. Recognize it in ourselves and in our co-workers and do what you can to help those that are in need, even if that person is you.
- National Academy of Medicine, Resources to Support the Health and Well-Being of Clinicians During the COVID-19 Outbreak: https://nam.edu/initiatives/clinician-resilience-and-well-being/clinician-well-being-resources-during-covid-19/
- Medical Economics, Fanning the Flames: the impact of COVID-19 on physician burnout: https://www.medicaleconomics.com/view/fanning-the-flames-the-impact-of-covid-19-on-physician-burnout
- FPM, Physician Burnout – It’s Origin, Symptoms, and Five Main Causes: https://www.aafp.org/fpm/2015/0900/p42.html
- Vital Minds Podcast: COVID-19: Emotional Toll on Healthcare Providers: https://pa-foundation.org/podcast/episode-17-covid-19-emotional-toll-on-healthcare-providers/
- Suicide prevention resources: https://www.nami.org/get-involved/awareness-events/suicide-prevention-awareness-month