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Running on Empty: Physician Burnout During a Pandemic

Physician burnout isn’t necessarily a new phenomenon. The feeling of emotional exhaustion paired with a lack of motivation is something that unfortunately, many physicians deal with on a regular basis, even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2020, on top of the regular stressors that physicians face each day like lack of work-life balance and paperwork overload, the pandemic created an entirely new set of pressure. Now, disproportionate patient volumes, restrictive safety measures and staffing shortages have added to the list of work-related stressors for physicians and healthcare staff alike.

It’s without question that burnout takes a toll on not only physicians but also their patients and their practice. How can healthcare systems and hospitals combat physician burnout to create a better environment for staff and patients?

  1. Reduce staff shortages. A study by MGMA found in March 2020, 42% of respondents used temporary workers or floaters to fill the staffing gaps caused by the pandemic. The use of freelance doctors or locums can reduce the shortages and keep full-time physicians focused on their individual patients, therefore reducing the overwhelming workload.

  2. Create a balanced schedule and offer flexible work arrangements. The lack of work-life balance, coupled with the demanding need for physicians during the pandemic, has contributed to the increase in burnout. Offering flexible scheduling policies and work arrangements will promote a culture of well-being while keeping your staff content.

  3. Optimize technology. The pandemic forced physicians and patients to resort to telehealth as a form of doctor’s visits. While what may have felt like a clunky way of “going to the doctor’s office”, many have found this route an easier, faster and more comfortable way to connect with patients. Often, these telehealth visits have resulted in improved experiences for the patient and physician alike, creating more joy in the visit and decreasing the stress that is typically felt from both parties.

Did you know that Hyr offers physicians the lifestyle choices they desire, while providing hospitals and healthcare systems more valuable and flexible staffing options? Find out how Hyr is doing its part to reduce physician burnout and create a win-win situation for doctors and hospitals.


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