Healthcare is a highly stressful industry to work in, especially right now. Many healthcare workers experience burnout that negatively affects their work and, in turn, their patients.
In a field where the pressure couldn’t be higher, how do we approach a conversation that relieves burnout and makes room for creative thinking? It’s a topic many people within the industry are struggling with.
In today’s blog post, I’ll address the topic of burnout and how to overcome it in favor of out-of-the-box thinking and creativity in healthcare.
When talking about burnout, I’m referring to the exhaustion one may feel when dealing with continued workplace stress. Stress and burnout are similar, but burnout manifests on an elevated scale. Stress is temporary; burnout won’t go away until you resolve it.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has defined three dimensions of burnout:
- Feelings of exhaustion or loss of energy
- Increased mental distance from the job, or feelings of cynicism and negativity toward the job
- Reduced professional productiveness
Within healthcare, burnout can be difficult to notice because it is an inherently high-stress field. The above dimensions of burnout may feel like the norm.
Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has elevated the level of stress and burnout of healthcare professionals, which can lead to poor patient safety.
As COVID cases increase among the unvaccinated, many healthcare workers are experiencing extreme levels of emotional and physical burnout. Many of these workers admit that when they feel burned out, it impacts patient care.
Additionally, with COVID, many healthcare workers have decided to leave their positions all together. As cases increase and professionals leave the field, there is not enough staff and not enough beds for critical patients.
How can we reduce burnout and generate more positive outcomes in healthcare?
Reactive vs. Proactive Thinking
Reactive thinkers act on instinct. When a question — or situation — arises, they rapidly seek an answer and leap to a decision quickly. Quick actions like this can be helpful, but their answers are not always the best. A danger of reactive thinking is that the person may consider their answer as the only answer.
Reactive thinking is very common in healthcare, an industry that often requires quick solutions to immediate problems. However, when your goal is to provide the best possible care to patients, you cannot rely on reactive thinking.
Recently, there has been a large push toward a proactive thinking approach. Proactive healthcare is about an earlier approach to conditions before symptoms appear, crises occur, and poor prognoses are given.
Creativity in Healthcare
We don’t really think about creativity when talking about healthcare, diseases, anatomy, and science. However, creativity is, by definition, identifying new ways to think about and approach topics and situations.
An example of this might be taking a new look at a disease and reimagining what it means to have that disease. Then, you are in a better position to treat the person, rather than the affliction.
There is an increasing need for creativity and innovation in the field to tackle key health challenges, improve patient quality and access, and reduce harm and costs.
Overcoming the Culture of Standardization
There is often a standardized care plan that keeps patient care the same across every patient in healthcare. The problem? Every patient is different.
Fostering creativity and innovation in healthcare organizations is critical to improving patient experience. Adding a personalized element to healthcare and being creative in how you look at patient care can significantly improve individual care.
Creativity can be something as small as bending your knee to speak with patients who use wheelchairs to be at eye level rather than looking down on them. Doing this shows respect toward the patient and engages them. It’s the little things that have big impacts.
Ideas for improvement arise every day — it’s up to healthcare professionals and organizations to recognize and implement them.
Consider thinking outside the box for patient care, especially if it seems the standardized care plan isn’t going to work. Frontline care staff should be encouraged to speak up if they recognize an issue within the standardized care plan.
An Improved Culture Leads to More Positive Results in Patient Care
The fact of the matter is disgruntled, burned-out employees show patients that they are disgruntled and burned out. Whether it’s on purpose or not, patients can tell if their doctors, nurses, or caregivers feel strained or pressured from higher up on the food chain.
When the culture is right at an organization, stakeholders, employees, and patients are all more engaged and satisfied. Creativity in healthcare organizations as a social and political process brings medicine and management together, increasing patient and staff care.
The Bottom Line
I offer a variety of services to healthcare organizations to improve their cultures. I believe that when the culture is right at an organization, the business will take care of itself, leading to happier and more engaged clients.
Are you feeling burned out and frustrated with your current situation? I have a program designed to specifically support individuals who are overwhelmed in their current circumstances. Let’s get in touch to schedule a meeting.
If you’re thinking, it’s not me, it’s the organization. Let’s verify. Pop over and answer 7 questions for me – and let’s go from there.