At SCA Health, the well-being of our patients and our community of partners and staff is our top priority. A healthy and supported team enables us to deliver high-quality care. However, physicians across the healthcare industry continue to experience the symptoms of burnout and other mental health troubles.
Burnout is a state of physical and emotional exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged exposure to stress and excessive work demands. The term came to prevalence during the COVID-19 pandemic, as healthcare professionals struggled to manage high caseloads and their own mental health.
Burnout significantly impacts individuals’ well-being, job satisfaction, and overall productivity. Recognizing the severity of burnout, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially recognized it as an ‘occupational phenomenon’ in 2019. Burnout is a gradual process, and actively reducing stress can prevent a major breakdown.
What is Burnout?
Burnout is often caused by chronic stress. When individuals consistently face overwhelming workloads, tight deadlines, or a lack of control over their work, stress levels can become persistent and unmanageable. Over time, the body and mind struggle to cope with this continuous stress to the point that the person feels exhausted, empty, and unable to cope. Burnout was listed as one of the top reasons for healthcare professionals leaving the field throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, even after the official end of the pandemic, burnout symptoms continue to persist among many providers, nurses, and staff.
Recognizing the Signs
Healthcare professionals should be able to identify the signs of stress in themselves and their colleagues. Common indicators may include physical symptoms such as fatigue, high blood pressure, sleep issues, and changes in appetite. Emotionally, individuals may experience changes like irritability, sadness, and anxiety. Research shows that cognitive aspects such as difficulty concentrating, reduced decision-making abilities, and interpersonal challenges are also signs to watch for.
Burnout is characterized by three main symptoms: exhaustion, alienation from (work-related) activities, and reduced performance. Recognizing these signs early can help individuals seek support and address burnout to promote well-being. At SCA Health, we take steps to help alleviate work-based stressors and avoid future issues through
Supporting Mental Health
At SCA Health, we remain committed to providing our teammates and physician partners with the time, skills, and opportunity to combat burnout and its symptoms. Below are some ways to reduce stress and the effects of burnout.
Encouraging Open Communication
At SCA Health, we prioritize open communication as a cornerstone of our supportive culture. We encourage partners and staff to express their thoughts, opinions, and concerns surrounding mental health openly. By fostering an environment where individuals feel safe to share their experiences, we create a sense of trust and reassurance. Regular team meetings, one-on-one check-ins, and confidential feedback channels provide avenues for open communication, ensuring that partners and staff feel validated and supported.
Promoting Work-Life Balance
Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is vital. At SCA Health, we emphasize the importance of setting boundaries and taking time for self-care. We encourage partners and staff to schedule regular breaks, vacations, and personal days to recharge and reconnect with their passions outside of work. Our block scheduling approach to surgery offers providers a beneficial yet manageable schedule, helping maintain positive mental health routines.
By promoting work-life balance, we empower individuals to prioritize their physical and mental well-being, leading to increased job satisfaction, reduced burnout, and improved overall productivity.
Teammate Resource Groups (TRGs)
To foster a sense of belonging and connection, we have established various community support programs. These initiatives include mentorship programs, where experienced partners and staff provide guidance, support, and career advice to their peers. Peer support groups create safe spaces for our colleagues to share challenges, exchange coping strategies, and offer mutual support.
SCA Health remains committed to providing an open and caring work environment to promote maintaining one’s mental health. We offer teammate resource groups (TRGs) to our partners and teammates, including Stigma-Free, our mental health-focused TRG. Made up of teammates from across the country, Stigma-Free meets to create a community of compassion, understanding, and education.
Learn more about each of our TRGs by clicking here.
By encouraging open communication, promoting work-life balance, establishing community support programs, and implementing stress-reduction initiatives, SCA Health aims to foster a culture of support and resilience. Together, we create an environment where everyone feels valued, heard, and supported, ensuring each individual can thrive personally and professionally.