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Knowledge Expansion

Battling burnout: Tools for improving the working lives of overstressed healthcare professionals

Insight Article

Performance Management

Leadership Development

Culture & Engagement

Andy Stonehouse MA
It’s no secret that employees in healthcare are often some of the most overstressed workers in the United States, with long hours, ever-changing demands and a never-ending need to serve patients. 

The issue of overworked healthcare professionals has certainly reached a critical level – especially in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. And while many organizations have developed programs to help address employee burnout, Katie Lawrence, MHA, CMPE, Director of Ambulatory Optimization and Integration, Prisma Health, cautioned that there is absolutely no quick-fix solution to employee fatigue or disengagement.

“When you’re talking about burnout and building teams and creating camaraderie and that sense of balance, it’s not a once and done," she said. “You can’t do it in kind of a big bang and say, ‘You know what, I took care of that for the year.’ It’s not like doing the budget. You can’t just do it and forget it. You’ve got to be doing things on an ongoing basis, in those little moments. And it’s the little moments that often matter more than the big ones.”

Lawrence — who spoke at MGMA20 | The Operations Conference Online during a session, “Creating Harmony: Leading Teams in an Era of Burnout” — addresses the approach healthcare practice leaders need to adopt to build a culture that values and recognizes employees for their hard work, or when they’ve worked too hard for their own good.

“You’re talking about harmony and balance and work and life interplaying together,” Lawrence said. “As we become more and more in tune with how much burnout there really is in our industry, it becomes that much more important for our leaders to be able to identify the signs of burnout, to be able to help their teams to identify them themselves. The big takeaway is really self-awareness, team awareness and the fact that it’s an ongoing process. None of this is rocket science. It’s mostly common sense, but it’s applying it, and consistently applying it, that I think is a big deal when it comes to leadership.” 

Lawrence said the benefits of self-awareness can also be applied to creating a holistic work-life balance, with positive impacts for everyone in the industry.

“A lot of us get into healthcare with the intent of helping others. But when the world sort of comes crashing down on us and we have budgets and deadlines and access problems and no-shows and fee schedules and all those technical things coming at us, it can be really easy to forget what brought you joy in healthcare to begin with,” she said. “I think it’s just learning to roll with the tide and to create that harmony in yourself, which then is very much going to rub off on your team.”


More from MGMA20 | The Operations Conference Online


Additional resources

About the Author

Andy Stonehouse MA
Freelance Writer and Educator Colorado

Andy Stonehouse, MA, is a Colorado-based freelance writer and educator. His professional credits include serving as editor of Employee Benefit News and a variety of financial and insurance publications, in addition to work in the recreation and transportation fields.
 

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