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Physician Well-Being During the COVID-19 Crisis, Part 1: An Introduction

By: Jason Horay
2 Minute Read

The world is experiencing a dynamic and constantly changing situation with the spread of COVID-19. Clinicians are on the front lines, causing high levels of stress, anxiety, worry, and emotional and physical exhaustion for many.

Developing and sustaining a sense of personal well-being is a delicate balance for many physicians during times of normalcy, and the COVID-19 crisis has brought even further challenges for healthcare providers.

In an effort to help healthcare professionals cope with these challenges, Curi will be sharing a series of articles with actionable advice to improve personal and professional well-being among physicians and medical staff, exploring topics including finding joy in work, helping employees cope with stress, how to engage employees, and leadership in the time of COVID-19—among others.

The Importance of Long-Term Solutions

In this time marked by a more anxious and agitated patient population, increased workloads, insufficient resources, and an ever-changing approach to care, it’s common for many healthcare providers to focus only on addressing immediate needs to move through each day. This can work in the short-term, but a more sustainable approach is needed in order to maintain the emotional and physical well-being of physicians and practice staff, as well as patients and family members by association.

Ten Tactics for Managing Stress

The Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress (CSTS), offers 10 valuable tactics for healthcare workers to help sustain long-term well-being during this difficult time, as included in their

  1. Meet basic needs: make sure to maintain regular eating, drinking and sleeping habits.
  2. Take breaks: allow yourself time to rest from caring for patients. Whenever you can, give yourself something fun or calming to do that is unrelated to work. Whether it’s going for a walk, listening to music or an uplifting podcast, reading a book or calling a friend, it’s important to take breaks to rest, as it leads to better care of your patients.
  3. Talk with your colleagues: connecting with your colleagues provides support for one another as outbreaks like this can cause people to isolate themselves due to fear and anxiety.
  4. Communicate constructively: be sure to communicate with colleagues in a clear and optimistic manner. Compliment one another to and share your frustrations as well as solutions to maintain motivation.
  5. Connect with family: stay in touch with your loved ones and other people outside of healthcare that are your support system.
  6. Respect differences: recognize that your colleagues, patients, friends and family cope with stressful situations differently. Some may prefer to talk about it while others prefer to be alone.
  7. Stay updated: tune in to reliable sources to stay informed of the situation and any current or future plans.
  8. Limit media exposure: while it’s important to stay updated, it’s also important to take breaks from media coverage and focus on yourself and what you can control.
  9. Self check-ins: make sure to monitor yourself, be aware of symptoms of depression or stress disorder, such as prolonged sadness, issues sleeping, intrusive memories, and hopelessness. If you recognize any of these symptoms, talk to a peer, supervisor, or seek professional help.
  10. Honor your service: remember you are working a noble profession, caring for patients in a highly stressful time. Honor yourself and your colleagues for their service.

No one strategy will work for everyone, but it’s important to explore various tactics to determine what is realistic and effective for your personal situation and preferences. Please continue to visit our News & Knowledge blog for future updates on maintaining well-being throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and reach out to jason.horay@curi.com if you have any questions.

Jason Horay
Jason Horay is Curi’s Manager of Health Strategy and Well-Being, based in Raleigh, NC.
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