The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly exacerbated feelings of burnout and stress among physicians. Unstable expectations, constantly changing guidelines, and new and unexpected challenges create feelings of a lack of control and can result in work overload for all medical staff.
In fact, the Psychiatry and Behavioral Health Learning Network reports that more than 44 percent of physicians have expressed feelings of anxiety, and more than 50 percent have experienced depression as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Overcoming these challenges starts with leadership and staff working together to identify stressors and seek effective solutions that will improve the well-being of personnel while promoting a thriving practice.
Positive Ways of Coping
Physicians and medical staff have the opportunity to adopt changes to their lifestyles that will improve their overall well-being during this time of increased stress and anxiety. By practicing the following healthy behaviors, most will see a steady improvement of their mood and greater satisfaction in their work, and in turn, a greater ability to provide quality care for their patients.
Some effective techniques include:
- Find Balance Between Work and Life
- Start by adjusting and becoming realistic about your own capacity, and communicate these thoughts with your employer. Give yourself grace and do what you can to create a schedule that allows you to be fully present.
- Focus on Quality Connections
- Check in on those you care about, avoid connections that amplify your anxiety, and find people who care about you and will help acknowledge your experiences with love and support.
- Prioritize Physical Well-Being
- Take time to exercise, get adequate sleep, nourish your body with healthy foods, and connect with others through social interaction.
- Practice Self-Care and Self-Reflection
- Choose to recognize and express gratitude for the positive things in your life, and identify when your emotional needs aren’t being met.
Effective Leadership for a Positive Workplace
Practice leaders have the opportunity to create a positive experience for medical staff by fostering a workplace characterized by humanity. This is done through programs as well as simple day-to-day actions. Effective managers maximize the potential of their team in ways that make employees feel valued while also driving positive experiences for patients.
Communication is a critical component for effective leadership, and requires three main pillars:
By empathizing with employees through listening and validating their experiences, practice leaders can create an environment where staff feels safe and valued.
Assertiveness is a skill that enables leaders to clearly and concisely share information that respects the dignity of every person involved. In addition, clarity and support from leaders allows for the best possible guidance for employees through thoughtfully crafted messaging and education.
In order to be an effective leader, it’s also important that practices foster an environment built on trust. Trust supports our mental health through the ability to feel safe and manage anxiety while simultaneously supporting social health through relationships.
Leaders can build and maintain trust through honesty and transparency while avoiding micromanagement and blame. This can be done by supporting the fundamental needs of employees, including autonomy (the need to have authorship over one’s own life), mastery (the need to feel successful and effective), and relatedness (the need to have meaningful connections with others).
For more information about how to be an effective leader during times of difficulty, practices are encouraged to reach out to me directly via phone (919-878-7530) or email Jason.Horay@curi.com.
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