By Tammy McCausland
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, which has been observed since 1949.
The COVID-19 pandemic had a tremendous impact on the mental health of children, teens and adults. No industry was left untouched. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, “Over the course of the pandemic, many adults reported symptoms consistent with anxiety and depression, with approximately four in ten adults reporting these symptoms by early 2021, before declining to approximately three in ten adults as the pandemic continued.”1
This blog post is modified from an article that appeared in Radiation Oncology News for Administrators Vol 32 No 3.
I have always been an organizer and a planner. As a radiation therapist I used a notebook agenda for professional daily goals and activities. Now I use my Outlook calendar for organizing work meetings and notes. Outlook offers a good high-level view of my day.
Renowned psychologist Christina Maslach, who created the Maslach Burnout Inventory, has remarked that even before the pandemic healthcare workers were at a higher risk for burnout. The pandemic has exacerbated the burnout problem as care providers and caretakers have struggled to keep pace.1 According a survey highlighted in a March 2022 HealthcareDive article, one-third of nurses plan to quit their jobs by the end of this year.2 Physician burnout increased from 42 percent in 2020 to 47 percent in 2021 according to the Medscape Physician Burnout & Depression Report 2022: Stress, Anxiety and Anger.3 The report notes that “Most physicians said that burnout permeates most aspects of their lives, with 54% indicating that the impact was strong to severe, including with their relationships.”3
Since the pandemic has worsened burnout and the coronavirus continues to stretch the country’s healthcare resources to their limits, how can healthcare leaders help their teams tackle burnout? We highlight several recent articles that offer suggestions.
This article is adapted, in part, from an article that appeared in SROA’s publication, Radiation Oncology for Administrators (Vol 31 No 5).
Many medical physicists have shared their concerns with me about their overwhelming workloads and exhaustion. Debbie Schofield decided to explore the prevalence of burnout in the medical physicist community as part of her doctoral studies. She conducted a study about job-related attitudes and burnout in the medical physics profession.
SROA’s 38th Annual Meeting kicked off with a keynote presentation by Sara Ross, Chief Vitality Officer at BrainAMPED, a leadership research and coaching firm.
Three key takeaways from her presentation about developing a vitality mindset are:
The same distractions that interrupt office productivity also penetrate remote work environments. There can be spouses, kids, pets, laundry, and yard work to manage. So, how can you be simultaneously present and productive? By learning to set boundaries using common language and simple tools like the 5 Gears.
Over the last year many of us have gone from days with face-to-face meetings to hours of virtual meetings. With accessibility increasing, it seems like more and more meetings are happening via online platforms such as Teams, Webex, and especially Zoom.
Sitting is the new smoking. I’m sure you’ve heard that one before. With more and more people working from home, and with laptops, cell phones and email, the lines between our work lives and home lives have most definitely blurred, which leads to longer working days and more hours spent “logged in.”
While studies have shown that we are not necessarily sitting more than our prehistoric predecessors we also aren’t getting up and moving around as much as we once did. Sure, we can buy a standing desk, or sit on an exercise ball while we work to mitigate some of the negative effects of sitting, but a better strategy might be to incorporate short periods of movement during the day.