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How Medical Professionals Can Cope With Workplace Stress

How Medical Professionals Can Cope With Workplace Stress

Stress is something that’s certainly not new to us in the modern day. No matter what role you find yourself in, dealing with stress has become a norm for many people. Those in the medical industry can also attest to the impact of stress on their physical and mental health. Medical professionals are often faced with long working hours, a heavy workload, and the loss of patients – all of which add stress to the lives of these individuals. We take a closer look at how medical professionals can effectively cope with workplace stress and prevent emotional burnout.

Factors That Cause Stress In The Medical Workplace

There are many reasons why healthcare workers can experience stress. It is a unique industry to work in, as the lives of patients fall into the hands of practitioners, specialists, nurses, and other staff members who work at these facilities.

The lengthy working hours and the workload placed on these healthcare professionals are often some of the major factors that contribute to the stress they experience. With this said, there are other things that can also be factors that contribute to the chronic stress that these professionals often have to endeavor.

Unclear expectations and poor management, not only in a personal capacity, but also when things are not properly organized and managed in the facility, also add to the stress. In some cases, healthcare professionals may not feel satisfied with the work environment, position they hold, or the salary offered based on their expertise.

It’s important to consider the fact that healthcare professionals are just people. This means they can experience personal life stressors too. Chronic disease, loss, divorce, financial issues, life events – these are all things that can further add to the stress of someone in the medical industry.

Some studies have shown that as much as 49% of medical staff in the United States have experienced burnout at some point in their lives. Additionally, 38% of medical staff have problems with depression and anxiety. Work overload seems to affect about 43% of these individuals. These stressors become even more serious in certain events, such as times when there are outbreaks of contagious diseases in a country.

The Impact Of Workplace Stress Among Medical Staff

When healthcare workers are stressed, regardless of the position they hold, it can have a significant impact on their performance. If the performance of these workers is not on par with the expectations, it can have an effect on the level of care they are able to provide patients.

The World Health Organization reports that there is a serious concern regarding burnout among workers in the healthcare sector. Additionally, fatigue and a high staff turnover are also becoming major problems too.

The impact of stress that these healthcare professionals experience can result in a reduced satisfaction level among patients. It can get even more serious – as fatigue, burnout, and poor performance among the healthcare staff can also result in errors. When patients are not diagnosed with the right disease, incorrect treatments can be provided to them – which can have life-threatening consequences. In other cases, the wrong doses of certain treatments may be prescribed or administered, which brings up another major cause for concern.

How Medical Staff Can Cope With Workplace Stress

Now that we’ve taken a closer look at the things that can cause stress among healthcare professionals, it’s time to consider strategies that these individuals can use to cope. It is important that healthcare professionals take a closer look at their workplace and consider what is causing them stress, as a personalized approach can help to make the implementation of coping strategies more effective.

Another important factor to consider is that the medical facility also plays a part in the staff member’s ability to cope with stress. When the facility itself makes a couple of changes internally, it can already provide improvements in performance and reduce the stress that staff have to cope with.

Here are some steps that the facility can take to help with workplace stress:
● Goals need to be clear. When expectations are unclear among staff members, it creates an opportunity for stress. Every staff member, regardless of the role they play in the facility, should know exactly what they need to do.
● Create a schedule that provides at least some flexibility for staff members. Long working hours tend to be one of the major factors that creates a stressful environment. Staff members should be allowed to have some time off to ensure the stress does not consistently accumulate.
● Being able to identify burnout early on can be very useful too. When staff members reach a point that displays early burnout, the issue should be addressed.

● Make sure staff members are involved in decision-making, such as when setting up new schedules. This helps to create a greater sense of involvement and can also assist with stress in the workplace.
● Providing staff members access to certain services and facilities can also be useful. Food services is a good idea, especially when these staff members need to work long hours.
● Addressing conflict among various staff members is also important. Conflict can lead to dissatisfaction among healthcare workers and even have an impact on patient care.

Apart from the facility, the individual should also be advised on stress-coping mechanisms that can adopt. This can also go a long way in helping to reduce workplace stress and ensure individuals do their part too.
Meditation: Providing educational materials about the benefits that meditation can provide for stress relief is helpful. Meditation has been scientifically proven to provide benefits for stress. In one review paper, researchers also confirm that meditation has a moderate impact on improving symptoms of both depression and anxiety. It is also a method for improving overall mental health and reducing the impact of stress on psychological well-being.
Self-Care: Medical staff can easily overlook the importance of self-care when they are so focused on caring for the patients in the hospital, or that come to their facility. Yet, self-care is extremely important for medical staff. While they already know the importance of self-care, it’s easy to forget about the steps to take when caring for multiple patients simultaneously. Providing staff members with friendly reminders can help them stay in their self-care routine.
Taking Time Off: Working long hours day after day can take a toll on the health of medical staff. This is why it’s important for them to take some time off now and then. It will give them the ability to relax and focus on some of the important things in their personal life.
Work-Life Balance: It’s also important for medical staff not to mix their work and personal life. This can also create problems, especially in their personal life something that can then reflect in their work life. Staff members should avoid taking work home with them, and rather focus on spending time with loved ones when they are not at the office or hospital.

Conclusion

Medical professionals have to consider stress from both their personal life and the workplace. Over time, the accumulation of stress can lead to burnout and make it difficult for these individuals to do their job. Taking a couple of steps can help medical staff be more prepared for the stress that comes with their job and adopt coping mechanisms that offer long-term benefits.

References

K. Prasad, C. McLoughlin, et al. Prevalence and correlates of stress and burnout among U.S. healthcare workers during the Covid-19 pandemic: A national cross-sectional survey study. EClinicalMedicine. Published 16 May 2021. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8141518/

M. Goyal, S. Singh, et al. Meditation Programs for Psychological Stress and Well-Being. Comparative Effectiveness Reviews. Published 2014. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK180102/

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