Not too long ago, I was on a call with a couple of leaders in the healthcare industry, one of which was the former CEO of a major organization.
This leader said to me, “You know, Bob, as the CEO of a hospital, we have tremendous demands on our time. All the regulatory agencies that oversee us, funding from Medicare, the government, there’s just not time left to care.”
And I replied, “How can caring organizations not have time to care?”
We need to put the care back in healthcare.
After giving a keynote address to the American Conference on Physician Health, I wrote a blog post about the leadership crisis in our healthcare organizations.
In the last couple of years the situation has worsened because of the stress and trauma brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic:
- The U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services says that more than 50% of public health workers reporting symptoms of at least one mental health condition, such as anxiety, depression, and increased levels of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- 47% of physicians and up to 54% of nurses and physicians assistants experienced burnout in the last year
- More than one-third (34%) of nurses say, it's very likely that they will leave their roles by the end of 2022 and 44% cited burnout/high-stress environment as the reason for their desire to leave
- 65% of nurses surveyed reported that they had been verbally or physically assaulted by a patient or a patient’s family member within the last year.
- Prior to the start of the pandemic, the percentage of clinicians reporting some degree of burnout was consistently about 25%, now that number has increased to approximately one-third
- 300-400 physicians each year die by suicide (Abraham Verghese, a Stanford professor, says that it takes three medical school classes every year to replace the physicians who have committed suicide.)
The people healthcare professionals serve are often in the midst of very difficult, even dire, circumstances. The stress, fear and grief they are experiencing are understandable.
But, how much better would a healthcare professional be able to handle traumatic situations if they felt valued and cared for by their leaders and their organization?
This may seem like an oversimplification to solve the issues in healthcare. It won’t solve everything, but it’s a start.
Again, how can caring organizations not have time to care?
I recently appeared on the Hope for Healthcare podcast with Dr. Katie Cole where we discussed these issues and more. You can listen to our conversation through the link above.