Health Workforce Safety and Resiliency

Information about pandemic risks to health care workers and the strategies being used to protect their physical and mental well-being, including burnout.

(10/14/21) WHO Planning New Network to Connect Nurses Across the Globe
The World Health Organization is creating a virtual network where nurses and midwives can share information, knowledge, and unique ideas on a global level. As burnout and mental health concerns continue to be a major issue during the pandemic, the virtual network will also allow a space for the nurses and midwives to support one another.

(10/14/21) Biden Admin to Invest $100M to Address Health Care Worker Shortage
The Biden administration announced this week that it will invest $100 million to the National Health Service Corps to further address the health care worker shortage. The program will help primary care doctors in rural communities and low income areas that have a hard time with recruitment and retention. The announcement was made after the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the United States lost 17,500 health care employees in September.

(10/14/21) STUDY: 88% of Clinical Support Staff Experiencing Significant Burnout
A Well Health study found that 88% of clinical Support staff are experiencing extreme burnout. Two-thirds of the clinical staff surveyed have contemplated quitting their jobs and 49 percent say that COVID-19 has made their jobs more difficult.

(10/07/21) COVID-19 Keeps Delivering Lessons About Health Care Workers Burnout. Will We Learn Them?
This article argues that health care leaders have a duty to protect the mental wellness of their health care work. Strategies discussed to deal with treating COVID -19 while protecting the health care worker include: speaking out in support of the vaccine, engaging frontline workers early and often, creating a culture of safety throughout healthcare.

(10/07/21) Staffing Shortages Ramp Up Recruitment Pressure on Hospitals
As the pandemic continues, staffing shortages at hospitals are increasing in the healthcare industry. The shortage of workers has effected recruitment and retention and driven up wages in hospitals, which according to a Moody’s report, will lead to declines in profit margins. One positive finding of the study is that there has been a rise in nursing school enrollment which indicates “a more robust long-term care staffing pipeline.”

(10/05/21) At Pandemic Peak, 1 in 3 Resident Doctors in NYC Experienced Burnout
Kaplan study finds that 1 in 3 Doctors in New York City experienced burnout. Results came from an electronic survey distributed during April and May 2020 to health care workers at Mount Sinai Hospital. Nearly 36 percent of the 560 respondents screened positive to “burnout.” Nearly 30 percent of the respondents screened positive to psychiatric disorder from the pandemic.

(10/04/2021) Nearly 1 in 5 Health Care Workers Have Quit Their Jobs During the Pandemic
A new Morning Consult survey that polled a 1,000 health care workers finds that nearly 20 percent of healthcare professional have quit their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. 31% of the health care workers who have kept their jobs during the pandemic have considered leaving, and 79% of health care workers have stated that the national worker shortage has affected their jobs. This is a follow-up to a survey conducted in January 2021.

(09/30/21) Health Workers Once Saluted As Heroes Now Get Threats
This article from the Associated Press highlights an increasingly pressing issue health care workers are facing as the COVID-19 pandemic continues: violence against workers. Health care workers across the United States are experiencing increases in threats, harassment, and assaults, as patients and their families, and members of the community in general, argue against the needs for masks and vaccines.

(09/22/21) Effectiveness of mRNA COVID-19 Vaccine Among US Health Care Personnel
A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine looks at the impact of two mRNA vaccines for COVID-19, the Pfizer–BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, on preventing symptomatic infection among health care workers in their workplaces. This study was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and found the vaccines to be highly effective in a real-world setting, which involved health care workers working at facilities in 25 states.

(09/16/21) For Doctors Hit Hard by COVID-19 Stress, There Are Tools to Help
This article from the American Medical Association focuses on physician health given the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic over the previous year and a half. New legislation at the federal level as well as organization tools and resources seek to improve physician health and well-being and safeguard against loss of life for doctors.

(08/31/21) Practical Strategies and the Need for Psychological Support: Recommendations from Nurses Working in Hospitals During the COVID-19 Pandemic
This journal article from the Journal of Health Organization and Management provides some practical recommendations for mitigating difficulties of frontline healthcare workers based on semi-structured interviews with 36 nurses living in Canada and working in Canada or the US. The article suggests six recommendations, including clear communication of work-related policies and psychological support from trusted providers, managers and peers.

(08/19/2021) Strapped by Shortage and Hit With Departures, Nurse Corps Swamped by Another COVID Wave
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on preexisting nursing shortages and the fourth wave of COVID-19 cases has only exacerbated these issues. This article highlights the increased stress and burnout nurses have faced during the pandemic as well as the pandemic’s impact on the nursing industry.

(08/19/21) Investing in Mental Health to Support Our Workforce
This webinar from the Alliance for Health Policy’s 2021 Signature Series brings attention to the growing mental health crisis among the workforce, both in the health-sector and in general, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Four experts discuss the importance of investment in mental health and wellness opportunities for employees as well as current insights and options for employers to effectively reach their workforce.

(08/16/21) Nursing and COVID-19: The Mental Health Burden of the Pandemic for Nurses
While there has been significant focus on barriers to mental health care for physicians, this piece from Vox discusses issues with mental health among nurses, which are currently seeing high turnover and understaffing at hospitals throughout the United States. This interview with Christopher Friese, a professor of nursing at University of Michigan, seeks to better explain the implications of the mental health burden on nurses throughout the pandemic.

(08/13/21) Psychological Distress and Resilience in First Responders and Health Care Workers During the COVID‐19 Pandemic
This study published in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology of the British Psychological Society compared population data taken from June and July 2020 in the United Kingdom. The researchers found that first responders and health care workers exhibited lower levels of psychological distress during lockdowns when compared to the general population, and that working in these essential fields could be protective for the mental health of workers.

(08/13/21) Leadership Communication, Stress, and Burnout Among Frontline Emergency Department Staff Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Mixed Methods Approach
A new study published in HealthCare: The Journal of Delivery Science and Innovation by researchers from Yale University looks at the role organizations can play in supporting health care workers and reducing their stress during the COVID-19 pandemic.

(08/11/21) Listen: Two Physicians, One of Whom Had a ‘Breakthrough Infection,’ on COVID-19 Among the Vaccinated
This episode of the First Opinion Podcast from STAT features a conversation between two physicians, one of which contracted a breakthrough infection of COVID-19 following their own vaccination. The other physician, Dr. Céline Gounder, is an infectious disease expert who helps to explain breakthrough infections and what they mean for health care workers.

(08/06/21) The Impact of Racism on Emergency Health Care Workers
A new study from researchers at the Emory University School of Medicine finds that systemic racism is a significant source of stress for emergency health care workers, with black participants in the study reporting higher levels of stress from racism when compared to other participants of color and white participants.

(08/02/21) Inside COVID-19’s Overlooked Toll on the Public Health Workforce
The American Medical Association released a new episode of the “AMA COVID-19 Update” that explored the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on public health workers. A new study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 53% of public health workers reported symptoms of at least one mental health condition.

(07/21/21) As COVID-19 Continues, So Do Troubles for Nurses
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing nursing shortages across the nation. However, New Jersey nurse unions have expressed severe concerns as their members continue to face burnout amid steady COVID-19 related hospitalization rates. These nurse unions believe that suspended regulations which govern nurse staffing ratios and hospital scheduling contribute to these conditions

(7/7/2020) NY Health Care Workers Report Distress Related to COVID-19 Care
This article introduces a research article from General Hospital Psychiatry regarding COVID-19 related psychological distress of health care workers in New York City (NYC). The study that surveyed health workers in NYC in April 2020 reports the high rates of psychological symptoms among the responses: 37% for acute stress, 48% of depression, and 33% of anxiety. The study also reports that the most common coping behavior was physical activity and exercise (59%).

(7/6/2020) Kansas City-region ICU Nurse Talks COVID-19 Burnout As Missouri Sees Rise in Cases
This news clip summarizes interviews with a nurse caring for new COVID-19 patients at a hospital located in Kansas city, regarding burnout and fatigue during the COVID-19 pandemic. The quotes in the clip show how health workers have struggled and coped with the pandemic and the rise of the patients.

(07/01/21) Stress and Burnout Still Plague Front-line Health Care Workers As Pandemic Eases
Although much of the United States is returning to a pre-pandemic normal lifestyle, many physicians, nurses, and other health care workers are still experiencing significant stress and fatigue relating to their continued service. This article from The New York Times covers the difficulties and frustrations with health care workers as the rest of the nation seems to move on from COVID-19.

(06/30/21) Health Workforce in COVID-19 Action Series: Time to Protect. Invest. Together.
This article from the World Health Organization promotes the COVID-19 Action Series in the international Year of Health and Care Workers, emphasizing efforts to protect and invest in health care workers. These episodes are available to provide expert advice and guidance on how to improve the health workforce at an international scale.

(6/24/2021) COVID-19: Pandemic Increases PTSD, Suicidal Ideation in Health Care Workers
This article explains how front-line health care workers have been exposed to the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and suicidal ideation since the COVID-19 pandemic, as they have witnessed lots of their colleagues and patients died due to COVID-19. While symptoms of PTSD are not new to health care workers (e.g., data shows 16% among emergency physicians pre-pandemic), a recent survey shows that the COVID-19 pandemic would have heightened the PTSD rate to 39.3% on average for all types of health care workers and 49.5% for nonphysician health care workers.

(6/23/2021) The Doctors Are Not All Right
This article discusses the issue of physicians who committed suicide after experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). According to the article, these physicians had no signs of mental disorders, and their stories reveal the existing gap in protecting health care workers in the health care system. For example, in the current health care system that penalizes workers whose mental health problems are disclosed, it is difficult for health care workers to open and discuss the problem. The article concludes with a couple of ongoing efforts and practical implications, such as legislation that supports suicide and burnout prevention training for health care workers.

(06/25/21) Half of Public Health Workers Experiencing Mental Health Strain: Study
A recent study published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report has found that more than half of public health workers reported experiencing symptoms of mental health conditions. Symptoms were more prevalent among public health workers under the age of 29, those who spent most of their time in COVID-19 wards, and those who were unable to take time off of work.

(06/23/21) Mental Health and COVID-19: How the US Health Care System Fails Doctors
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the prevalence of mental health conditions among physicians. Although the pandemic has threatened the mental and emotional well-being of providers, physicians continue to avoid seeking mental health care for fear of losing their medical license. This article highlights the need for the implementation of improved strategies and resources for physicians to manage their mental well-being while also caring for patients.

(6/23/2021) Physician Work Hours Significantly Declined Since Start of COVID-19
This article summarizes a recent study published in JAMA Network Open that reports the gradual decline in physician work hours. According to the study, the mean weekly work hours of physicians was 50.8 in January 2019 but hit the lowest record in May 2020 at 47.5 hours per week. The study also reports that the proportion of physicians working full-time has declined from 84.2% to 80.7% after the pandemic.

(06/22/21) Silos Must Be Broken to Help Health Care Heroes Exhausted by Pandemic
The American Medical Association has joined the American Nurses Foundation, American Hospital Association, and Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare for the All In: Well-Being First for Healthcare campaign. More than 200 organizations and individuals have joined the effort to address the mental health crisis among health care workers that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

(06/21/21) Around 10% of Health Care Workers Who Had COVID-19 Experienced Long-Term Symptoms: Study
The National Institute for Health has decided to invest more than $1 billion into research for long-term COVID-19 symptoms. This news has been announced after a study found that approximately 10% of health care workers experienced long-term COVID-19 symptoms that lasted at least 8 months after exposure. Some of the reported symptoms that disrupted their work, social, or home lives include loss of taste and/or smell, fatigue, and breathing problems.

(06/18/21) Despite Improving Conditions, COVID Will ‘Scar’ a Generation of Health Care Workers
Judy Woodruff and William Brangham from PBS News discuss the impact of the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out on New York State as well as the lasting impact the COVID-19 pandemic will have on health care workers. They also interview Dr. Craig Spencer, the director of global health in emergency medicine at Columbia University to gauge his perspective on the matter.

(06/15/21) Make Sure PPE Is Designed to Fit Everyone
A presentation held at the June 2021 American Medical Association (AMA) Special Meeting highlighted the need for personal protective equipment (PPE) to be designed in an inclusive manner which fits all body types. This resolution comes as research cited in the presentation found that approximately 57% of women reported that improperly fitted PPE sometimes or significantly hampered work. AMA Board Member, Willie Underwood III, MD, MSc, MPH, also cited studies that reported health care workers developing ulcers or contracting COVID-19 due to improperly fitted masks.

(06/14/21) Doctors Risked Suicide, Miscarriage on Duty, Then COVID Arrived
The risks for providers, especially women, in providing health care have been well-known since prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, however this Bloomberg Law article highlights the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic have exacerbated risks to providers, as well as discussing the stigma around mental health issues in physicians and potential changes to law to address these issues.

(06/09/21) Biden Administration Will Limit Mandatory COVID Workplace Safety Rules to Health Care Settings
The United States Labor Department has recently made the decision to specifically limit mandatory emergency COVID-19 workplace safety rules to the health care sector. Both unions and businesses are concerned about this pivotal change as they have anticipated a ruling that would broadly apply to all workplaces.

(06/09/21) Listen: Healing the Healers: An Advocate and a Psychiatrist on Clinicians’ Mental Health and Burnout
This First Opinion Podcast from STAT News discusses the mental health challenges that health care workers face while practicing medicine. Corey Feist, a mental health advocate and Wendy Dean, a Psychiatrist, also uncover how the recent COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these mental health challenges among health care workers.

(06/07/21) Physician Wellness After COVID-19: Steps to Getting Back to Normalcy
This article reports the mental health problems among healthcare workers. As a survey on healthcare workers from Mental Health America shows, more than 75% of the respondents reported stress, anxiety, burnout, or felt overwhelmed. Such a rampant mental health problem among healthcare workers is associated with the challenges such as developing new lifestyles, having kids at home, fighting misinformation, as well as anxiety and excessive work burden that they have faced since the beginning of the pandemic.

(06/02/21) CEO Coalition Readies to Take Action to Support Hospital Staff
The COVID-19 pandemic introduced new challenges and exacerbated existing issues in maintaining workforce safety in hospital systems. In an attempt to address these challenges, CEOs from 10 prominent hospital systems in the United States have announced the CEO Coalition’s Declaration of Principles to promote safer working environments, including emphasis on emotional and psychological safety, health justice, and physical safety of employees.

See More Resources