‘Big resignation’ could be coming for healthcare as clinicians face growing burnout and stress, study finds

As the lingering COVID-19 pandemic places unprecedented stress on America’s healthcare workers, data suggests the country is on the brink of a wave of healthcare worker turnover.

One in five doctors and two in five nurses plan to leave their current practice within two years, according to a new study from the American Medical Association (AMA).

The study, published in the December issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings: Innovations, Quality & Outcomes, also found that about a third of doctors and nurses expect to work fewer hours over the next 12 months.

“If these clinicians act on these intentions, it will have important implications for future healthcare workers,” the study authors warned, while adding that “reducing burnout and improving enhancements can allow healthcare organizations to better retain their workforce after death.” pandemic.”

Christine Sinsky, MD, lead author and AMA Vice President of Job Satisfaction, told Fierce Healthcare that “in the study, we found that the healthcare workforce is at risk. I believe that the “great resignation” that we see in all sectors of the economy has not yet fully affected us in the health sector. »

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Factors associated with greater intention to reduce hours or leave a work environment include higher levels of burnout, stress, workload, fear of infection, anxiety or depression due to COVID-19, and the number of years of practice, the AMA study noted.

Among physicians, the intention to leave is often correlated with actual departures. “We know from other studies that about one-third of physicians who indicate a moderate or higher likelihood of leaving actually leave in two years,” Sinsky said. “If this continues to be the case for doctors and if it continues for nurses, we will face a serious shortage of nurses and doctors. It is unlikely that the number of new interns will fill the gap.

Considerable costs are associated with the replacement of health care workers. For example, the expense of replacing a single physician could reach $250,000 and even exceed $1 million. The cumulative cost of turnover and reduced clinical hours due to physician burnout in the United States is estimated at $4.6 billion annually, according to the AMA study.

Meanwhile, the study found that feeling valued was strongly linked to a lower likelihood of cutting hours or leaving. In conclusion, he recommended that organizations implement strategies to build healthcare workers’ sense of worth, establish nurturing environments and reduce work overload through better teamwork aimed at limiting stress and to avoid rolling.

“There are many ways an organization can help workers feel valued,” Sinsky told Fierce Healthcare, citing the importance of providing adequate personal protective equipment and proper training for new responsibilities due to COVID. -19. It also helps alleviate some of the requirements that traditionally add to the labor burden.

“Before the pandemic, some facilities required that only the physician be able to perform tasks such as medication reconciliation or prescription entry,” she said. However, “during the pandemic, some organizations have changed their policies to allow team members to share these tasks.”

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Healthcare workers in clinical and non-clinical positions, including office staff, housekeepers and administrators, responded to the AMA survey, which collected data from more than 20,000 people in 124 hospitals and health systems between July 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020. Several health care organizations in 30 states, rural and urban, administered the survey at no cost beginning in April 2020.

This analysis excluded medical residents because their clinical hours and likelihood of leaving their current practice are largely determined by progression through their training program. It included advanced practice providers, such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants, who practice alongside physicians, with more limited training and often with a narrower scope of care.

“Future research should determine whether addressing predictors of burnout and focusing on mitigating factors such as positive organizational cultures and workers feeling valued could avert a potential job crisis. health workforce in the wake of COVID-19,” the authors noted.

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