In a recent LocumTenens.com Compensation & Employment survey, we asked physicians and advanced practitioners for their opinions on mental health in the workplace, including the stress they feel in their everyday work lives. We also asked for their advice on how they personally handle stress. While many clinicians recognized there were a lot of things outside their employer’s control, they offered ideas on how to make the workplace healthier and less stressful for all clinicians. These are their suggestions:
- Offer space for exercise or relaxation at the facility to de-stress.
“On-site rec centers or gyms would be helpful. In this era of preventive health care, we should be setting the example of physical activity as the cornerstone of health.” ~Emergency Medicine Physician
“A calm room helps; it would be nice to have a quiet space to get away from it all for a few moments.” ~Geriatrician
- Offer opportunities to participate in wellness programs and classes during and after work.
“Counseling and psychotherapy with workshops should be available.” ~Family Practice Nurse Practitioner
“Invest in your staff — allow freedom to go to a class that encourages either exercise, nutrition or other modalities.” ~Nurse Practitioner
- Ensure a safe environment for employees. Workplace violence is a worry for many healthcare workers.
“Give healthcare providers rights and protection. Doctors, nurses and other providers do not need to endure or tolerate abuse by patients and families.” ~General Surgeon
- Make certain employees are not overworked either with long hours or large patient loads. One of the best ways to reduce stress for employees would be to decrease or lessen the workload.
“Stop giving us less time to do more. Give us enough time to see patients and provide quality care.” ~Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
“Realize there is a finite volume that can be seen by one physician. Realize that burnout signs need to be detected and addressed early.” ~Otolaryngologist
“One of the reasons I left my last position is because we had no breaks or lunch. I started to see patients at 8 a.m. and finished the last patient at 5 p.m. Unless I was very fast I didn't have a chance to eat or sit down for a short break.” ~Nurse Practitioner in Pain Management
- Allow practitioners to have more time with their patients or to catch up on paperwork.
“Allow more time in the patient encounter. More coverage is needed, especially at settings where the acuity has changed.” ~Physician Assistant in General Practice
“Allow sufficient time to see patients and complete documentation. The current environment is about quantity of patients seen as opposed to patient satisfaction and outcomes. Current healthcare practices have taken the CARE out of caring.” ~Nurse Practitioner in Internal Medicine
“Increase time with patients/less patients per hour. Interesting thing is — patients want this too! Figure out ways to spend less time on paperwork/in front of computers (scribes are a great idea with some needed tweaks).” ~Physician Assistant in Emergency Medicine
- Work to better align medical personnel and administration.
“Involve them as a critical voice in decision-making about how the provider's work is completed and carried out.” ~Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
“Improve professional autonomous decision-making capacity in their care of patients and respect for patient care work.” ~Psychiatric Physician Assistant
“Administration and physicians need to be on the same page, not on opposing teams.” ~Otolaryngologist
“Prior to implementing protocols within the healthcare setting, examine how the clinician and patient would be impacted with the changes.” ~Geriatric Nurse Practitioner
- Provide adequate staffing (reasonable patient-provider ratio) to improve stress levels and reduce burnout.
“Provide adequate staffing to provide efficient use of time and dedicated staffing for patient and administrative management.” ~General Surgeon
“We could require less call and paperwork by providing more ancillary help.” ~Orthopedic Surgeon
- Encourage all clinicians, including physicians and advanced practitioners, to work together in a team approach with better and more efficient processes.
“We need efficient workflow; patient-centered holistic care prevents problems and increases stability in all aspects of a patient's life.” ~Psychiatrist
“There needs to be more open communication between all employee levels as they work towards shared goals.”~ Allergy & Immunology Physician
- Provide better orientation, training and feedback for clinicians.
“I worked with a physician who talked about every critical incidence that happened in the intensive care unit. He told us what we did well in a resuscitation, what aspects of the case we had no control over and how we could improve things next time. He did this very quickly in the fast-paced environment but it helped me cope.” ~Nurse Practitioner in Pain Management
- Streamline documentation to improve efficiency and free up more time to see patients. EHR and paperwork support would help decrease providers’ stress levels.
“Provide abundant resources to do our jobs well. Cost effectiveness and efficiency should take a back seat to good patient outcomes and employee satisfaction.” ~General Surgeon
Invitations for the survey were emailed to a database of more than 80,000 individuals, which included physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and CRNAs. Respondents to all surveys were self-selected and spanned all 50 states and medical/surgical specialties. The response rate was 2.56 percent, with a +/- 3 percent error rate at a 95 percent confidence level.
LocumTenens.com is a full-service healthcare staffing agency, specializing in the temporary placement of physicians, CRNAs, physician assistants and nurse practitioners at healthcare facilities across the U.S. As the industry’s most-visited job board, LocumTenens.com helps healthcare organizations connect with the professionals they need to ensure patients have access to quality care. Founded in 1995, LocumTenens.com is part of the Jackson Healthcare family of companies. Learn more at www.locumtenens.com/about.