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Dr. Bonnie Clipper, DNP, MA, MBA, RN, CENP, FACHE
We had a clinician burnout issue before COVID-19 hit us. The National Academy of Medicine issued its seminal report, Taking Action Against Clinician Burnout: A Systems Approach to Professional Well-Being in October 2019. The report outlined many of the contributors to burnout including inadequate resources, documentation burden, inefficient systems and processes, and workloads, to name a few.
As we watched the pandemic unfold in front of our eyes on television and in social media, the sheer size and speed shocked all of us. And as if in slow motion, the pandemic, in its fierce intensity, shifted from hospital surges to taking its emotional toll on clinicians. Our clinicians are amazing, and they are people. They are mothers and fathers, spouses and partners, brothers, and sisters. People… are impacted by events of this scope and scale.
The toll on the health and well-being of our clinicians will take many forms: depression, anxiety, broken relationships, addiction, PTSD, and even suicide. As the Scientific American article Psychological Trauma is the Next Crisis for Coronavirus Health Workers explained, this wave is coming fast and hard. We have seen the moving images of physicians, nurses, and healthcare workers from all over the country, as being present, engaged and working, despite their own fears for their safety and well-being. Yet, they show up and care for those who are sick, they have truly risen to the occasion. They are selfless and for that, we need to address their well-being and the emotional toll that this pandemic is taking, and will continue to take for years to come.
In an effort to help with the wave of mental health concerns, the National Academy of Medicine has recently published “Strategies to Support the Health and Well-Being of Clinicians During the COVID-19 Outbreak”. This is a helpful guide that highlights strategies to ensure that we provide safe, blame-free, collaborative work environments. It is interesting to note that the first strategy is to ensure that clinicians know how much they are valued. “Valuing Clinicians” oversimplifies what many organizations and leaders struggle with. “Showing value” is often a term that can ring hollow.
Demonstrating value needs to be genuine and authentic, done in a way that not only clinicians but everyone working in healthcare, hears on a frequent and regular basis. The value that these individuals bring, not only now at this time of crisis, but every day is incredible and important.
Showing value can be done by expressing appreciation and gratitude for a job well done, showing up when everyone else is isolating at home and caring for patients with no family or loved ones to bear witness to their darkest hours. This does not have to be complicated, it can be done in person, via phone, text, or even electronically. Valuing clinicians means supporting their work, providing resources, actively listening to their concerns, feelings, and fears and thanking them for the work that they do.
There has never been a more important time for valuing clinicians. I am so grateful for the work and contributions of clinicians and all healthcare workers and often think about how I can someday repay their efforts and sacrifice. Reflecting on the writings of Florence Nightingale, I came across this poignant quote, “You ask me why I do not write something…I think one’s feelings waste themselves in words, they ought all to be distilled into actions and into actions which bring results”.
Let the act of demonstrating value be our action, and on a regular basis going forward, let us show gratitude and appreciation for this selfless work. We must all say the words, write the words, or text the words “Thank you for what you are doing” more often. Let our clinicians and healthcare workers know how valued they are to demonstrate the importance and meaning of their heroic work.
Mock, J. (2020). Psychological trauma is the Next Crisis for Healthcare Workers. Scientific American. Accessed on April 29, 2020. Accessed at https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/psychological-trauma-is-the-next-crisis-for-coronavirus-health-workers/
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine 2019. Taking Action Against Clinician Burnout: A Systems Approach to Professional Well-Being. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/25521
National Academy of Medicine. (2020). Strategies to Support the Health and Well-Being of Clinicians During the COVID-19 Outbreak. Accessed on April 29. 2020. Accessed at https://nam.edu/initiatives/clinician-resilience-and-well-being/clinician-well-being-strategies-during-covid-19/
The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed our lifestyles and habits. Take a quick 5-minute pause to listen to this uplifting micro-interview between Dr. Bonnie Clipper and Irma Rastegayeva as they share stories about those on the front line stepping up and going way above and beyond their job responsibilities with acts of compassion and empathy.
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Dr. Bonnie Clipper was the first Vice President of Innovation at the American Nurses Association.
She is currently the Chief Clinical Officer at Wambi and an influential thought leader and international speaker on the future of nursing. She joins Nikki to discuss the importance of nurse-led innovations and their impact on overall engagement in healthcare.
Listen in for the full conversation.
In collaboration with Wambi, the Gut + Science Podcast Healthcare Series hosted by Nikki Lewellen, Director of Partnerships at Wambi, highlights accomplished, people-first healthcare CEOs (and executives) that share their powerful mindsets, experiences and tools that have helped them succeed. The show encompasses all areas of human capital at work and the successful best practices that breed healthy, engaged organizations.
Take a few moments to listen this uplifting micro-interview between Dr. Bonnie Clipper and Dr. Rose Sherman discuss leadership traits to really focus on during COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, which include trust, stability, compassion and hope.
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