Recovering from the Pandemic: How to Use Staff-Reported Sources of Anxiety to Improve Workforce Resilience and Wellbeing

Prioritizing healthcare professionals’ concerns and opinions has always been a vital resource in improving health care. By understanding what is going well and what can be improved, upper management can enact policies and procedures accordingly. COVID-19 has heightened the vitality of listening to healthcare professionals because they are at the forefront of battling this disease. Their voice can contribute to improving the safety of patients and reducing burn out of health care professionals. During a pandemic, and everyday, it is important to understand the sources of fear health care professionals face so that those concerns can be directly addressed. The best way to do this is to ask.

In a recent Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Network paper, eight sessions with physicians, nurses, clinicians, residents, and fellows were conducted, where three main concerns were discussed: what their biggest concerns were about, what they needed from their leaders, and what other sources of support they believed would be most helpful (Shanafelt et al.).

These discussions were consistently related to 8 sources of anxiety: 

  • Access to personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Being exposed to COVID-19 at work and infecting their family 
  • Access to COVID-19 testing if they develop symptoms and the fear of further spreading the infection at work 
  • Uncertainty that their organization will take care of their personal and family needs if they test positive for COVID-19
  • Access to childcare during increased work hours and school closures
  • Support for other personal and family needs as work hours and demands increase 
  • Being able to provide competent medical care if deployed to a new area 
  • Lack of access to up-to-date information and communication

By recognizing staff needs during the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare leaders and organizations can develop targeted approaches to address these needs. These concerns can be organized into 5 requests: hear me, protect me, prepare me, support me, and care for me (Shanafelt et al.).

Shanafelt T, Ripp J, Trockel M. Understanding and Addressing Sources of Anxiety Among Health Care Professionals During the COVID-19 Pandemic. JAMA. 2020;323(21):2133–2134. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.5893

Health care professionals have stated that they appreciate leaders who provide reassurance and ask team members, “What do you need?” and encourage them to ask for help when they need it.

goShadow has routinely identified many of these anxieties among healthcare professionals at healthcare sites, both domestically and internationally. Through survey responses and on-site real-time shadowing, goShadow can recognize where there is room for improvement in the system. Shadowing, asking “What Matters?”, and other feedback-oriented questions, provide real-time data from patients and staff about their healthcare experience, allowing change to be made to increase job satisfaction and patient experience. goShadow’s resources provide any organization with the training and tools it needs to learn from the COVID-19 pandemic and plan for the future.

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Posted on

June 25, 2021