Medical care workers are making other plans as the pandemic continues.
A new survey conducted by the Department of Population Health Sciences, University of Utah in Salt Lake City, and administered to more than 5000 clinicians, has revealed that approximately one in five seriously contemplated leaving their jobs because of COVID-19 related challenges. Moreover, 30% reported they wished to reduce their work hours. The study was published online this month in JAMA Network Open.
Lead author and researcher in the Department of Population Health Sciences, University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Rebecca K. Delaney, PhD, said. “There are a substantial number of employees and trainees who are experiencing major stress and work disruptions because of the pandemic,” lead author Rebecca K. Delaney, PhD, said. “It is particularly alarming that people who have spent 5 or more years in training for their specialty are struggling with their work, so much so that they have even considered leaving the workforce or reducing their hours. Being a caregiver adds another layer of difficulty for faculty, staff, and trainees who are trying to manage work and childcare.”
Carol A Bernstein, MD, professor and vice chair of Faculty Development and Well-being, departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Obstetrics and Gynecology and Women’s Health, Montefiore Medical Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York City, said of the findings, “This looks like an excellent survey. I do not think it provides particularly new information as these challenges in the workplace, especially for women during COVID, have been well documented in the media and the medical literature to date.” She added, “That said, to the extent that data helps drive solutions, I would hope that information such as this would be considered as strong further evidence that health care systems must pay close attention to the wellbeing of the workforce.”
Never half of employed U.S. residents transitioned to working from home at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic without notice. This meant that, in many cases, they had to quickly adapt to providing their own childcare and academic guidance. This placed a burden on employed women in particular, and this led to contemplated channge.
“Women comprise 74.9% of hospital employees, many of whom are essential clinical workers,” the researchers wrote. “The extent of the needs and difficulties for these workers during the pandemic remain largely unknown.”
The authors concluded, “In this survey…many participants with caregiving responsibilities, particularly women, faculty, trainees, and (in a subset of cases) those from racial/ethnic groups that underrepresented in medicine, considered leaving the workforce or reducing hours and were worried about their career development related to the pandemic. It is imperative that medical centers support their employees and trainees during this challenging time.”
Because there has been such a high rate of burnout and many contemplated leaving the workforce, the team suggests, “Given the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has on employees of health systems, institutions must find ways to support their employees, both in terms of workplace cultural adaptations and assistance with familial responsibilities.”