New CDC program battles healthcare worker burnout

Published: Nov. 2, 2023 at 3:00 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Even a superhero needs support sometimes, and that includes our heroic healthcare workers. Burnout can be an issue, in any job, and in recent years the medical field has been particularly at risk.

Over half the doctors in the United States, an alarming number, have reported symptoms of burnout.

On October 31, the Center for Disease Control’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) announced the launch of Impact Wellbeing. This campaign aims to help hospitals reduce staff burnout by improving workplace policies.

“Even before the pandemic, healthcare workers faced challenging working conditions that lead to burnout. This includes long work hours, risk for hazardous exposures, stressful work, and high administrative burdens,” said John Howard, MD, Director of NIOSH. “Hospital leaders need support to implement organizational changes. Practical adjustments can reduce burnout and strengthen professional wellbeing within their hospitals.”

The Impact Wellbeing project also emphasizes that medical professionals must be able to seek mental health care without repercussions.

“Like everyone, healthcare workers deserve the right to pursue mental health care without fear of losing their job because of stigmatizing and discriminatory questions,” said J. Corey Feist, JD, MBA, Co-Founder and President of the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Foundation. “My sister-in-law, Dr. Lorna Breen, experienced this barrier firsthand, confiding in our family that she was fearful of being ostracized at work if she acknowledged that she needed help. Shortly after, she died by suicide. Sadly, I have heard from numerous families who lost healthcare worker loved ones to suicide who expressed the same concerns as Lorna.”

Compared to the general population, physicians have a 40 percent higher suicide rate.

If you have concerns for yourself or a loved one, please do not hesitate to call the national crisis line at 988.