It’s Time To Put The ‘Care’ Back Into Healthcare

In my first and second blogs on medical burnout written for FierceHealthcare, I examined the troubling reality which has been dubbed by many as “the healthcare professional’s occupational disease.” Judging by the feedback I’ve gotten on both posts, clearly we’re onto something here. Now in my third blog in the series, I explore the ways several hospitals and medical groups are attempting to solve this massive problem.

Who is caring for the people who care for patients? 

At Simon Associates Management Consultants, we often tackle a problem by first doing research. In the case of medical burnout, we started with a question: What are healthcare institutions doing to help their nurses, doctors and staff keep their smiles, their kindness and their passion (assuming reclaimed compassion and passion will reverse the burnout syndrome)?

In the FierceHealthcare blog, I describe how one hospital we visited has recognized that nurses’ work now goes well beyond mere clinical care, from keeping up with the demands of electronic medical records to interacting with sick patients to evaluating volumes of data. The hospital’s response? Personally engaging with their nurses and demonstrating more human concerns about their stresses, at work and in their personal lives. 

Another hospital we observed (part of a large Catholic health system) has developed a program to re-engage physicians with their “mission,” then expanding this new commitment throughout their system. 

Slowly, changes are coming.

At one time, careers in healthcare were thought to be special 

People used to go into medicine because they had a special passion, a calling that led them into this profession. As I say in my article, somewhere along the way for far too many workers, it has sadly turned into “a job.”

This could be said about other professions as well. I talk about Barry Schwartz’s book, “Why We Work,” in which he chronicles burnout across our society—affecting teachers, healthcare workers, retail employees, service industries, even lawyers. His conclusions suggest that burnout is not simply a medical problem but has become a human problem.

To solve burnout, we must reconnect healthcare workers with their original passion for medicine 

So how do we turn around this system which causes physical, emotional and mental exhaustion for those engaged in it? One solution: by championing and reigniting those ideals that called these people to go into healthcare in the first place.

For a fuller picture of my analysis of burnout in the medical profession, I invite you to read my 3 FierceHealthcare blogs:

  1. A growing area of concern: Burnout among medical professionals
  2. How To Address Burnout Among Medical Professionals
  3. Another burnout solution: Put the ‘care’ back in healthcare