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Report: Resources for a Resilient Workforce


HAP Report: Resources for a Resilient WorkforceThe rapid emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every aspect of the way we live, from purchasing groceries, to communicating with loved ones, to receiving health care. The effects have reached into the personal, professional, social, and financial aspects of our lives, creating levels of stress that are unprecedented for most Americans. In their unique position of continually caring for others, health care workers—often in life or death situations—have been fraught with concerns for their own health and the health of their loved ones. They are also dealing with job burnout, mental pressure, anxiety, and depression symptoms.

The literature is rich with articles, editorials, commentaries, and research on the psychological impact clinicians experience during a pandemic. The emotional response has been equated to those experienced during a natural disaster, which can range from post- traumatic growth, to burnout, to post traumatic stress symptoms.

Even before COVID-19, burnout was well documented within the health care community with rates as high as 70 percent for clinicians in the intensive care setting. 

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), reporting studies using the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI), found burnout rates for physicians as high as 67 percent. The impact goes beyond burnout.

Fumis, et al., discusses the negative impact on patient quality, safety outcomes, as well as the personal consequences of substance abuse and depression for clinicians.

Research from the psychological impact of quarantine during SARS was a predictor for staff to report symptoms of acute stress disorder.  Concerns about safeguarding themselves and their families was frequent, along with feelings of anger and frustration. Confusion was widespread.

When clinicians become ill and are quarantined, the combination compounds the impact. Being separated from family, friends, and colleagues, coupled with professional guilt and social pressure from becoming ill, plus the physical aspects of the illness itself, can all become overwhelming.

Even though stress is an accepted occupational norm in health care, the complex layers of stress, burnout, anxiety, and depression during a pandemic are exponential and difficult to address.

The onset of the coronavirus pandemic has escalated the need to address stress, burnout, and resiliency even more critical as health care workers face unprecedented work pressures.

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Topics: Emergency Preparedness, Workforce

Revision Date: 10/27/2021

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