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New survey details health care workforce stress and burnout

The health care system continues to face significant staffing tumult from the Covid-19 pandemic, ranging from severe work overload to continued job loss and scarcity, according to a new national survey.

IBMThe survey of 2,300 physicians and advanced practitioners conducted by LocumTenens.com, a health care industry staffing resource, found 14% saying they were still unemployed after being furloughed or laid off last year, with 41% of clinicians stating they planned to change jobs within the next year.

Roughly one-quarter of the surveyed health care professionals reported salary decreases during the period, while 7% reported salary increases and 64% did not experience any change to their paychecks despite the increased workload.

Overall, 39% of clinicians reported increased levels of stress and burnout due to the pandemic, with the most burned-out specialties being oncology, hospital medicine, critical care medicine and emergency medicine.

More than three-quarters of pulmonary medicine specialists and nearly half of child and adolescent psychiatrists reported an increased workload due to the pandemic, while 62% of radiologists and 58% of orthopedic surgeons experienced a workload decrease during this period.

Within the profession’s demographics, millennials reported the highest level of Covid-related burnout (49%) while 43% of women felt burnout compared to 33% of men.

The survey also found two-thirds of clinicians (63%) have taken time off from practicing or are planning to do so within the next few months, which could further exacerbate a health care system facing workforce shortages and the potential surge in the Delta variant.

“We are continuing to see health care organizations face staffing shortages, which will likely worsen in the coming months as more clinicians take time off from practicing or make career changes,” said Chris Franklin, president of LocumTenens.com. “The pandemic highlighted gaps in existing employment strategies and gave some providers time to reconsider priorities. It’s now more important than ever that we are prepared to support the healthcare workforce to ensure patients have access to care.”

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