You don’t have to work in healthcare to know that the people caring for us are suffering. The Covid-19 pandemic put them on the front lines of a crisis, affecting their physical and mental health, and the medical profession has not yet recovered.

More than half of nurses surveyed reported symptoms of burnout in a 2023 survey by the American Nurses Foundation and McKinsey. Many cited structural issues with the U.S. healthcare system such as workload and administrative burden, which are not only driving burnout but making it worse since they have little to no control to change it.

As a result of burnout and stress, as many as one in three healthcare workers "plan to leave their job within the next year, and 14% plan to leave the industry entirely," another 2023 survey found. In early October, 75,000 healthcare workers staged a 72-hour walkout demanding measures to ease chronic staffing shortages and high turnover.

Most distressing, healthcare workers have an elevated risk of suicide compared to those who don’t work in healthcare. Strife among healthcare workers is so widespread that the U.S. Surgeon General issued an advisory last year to address the “distressing environments that strain their physical, emotional, and psychological well-being.” Unless we treat these ailing caregivers, it will be harder for patients to get the necessary care.

There isn't just one solution to this perfect storm. But I have seen the positive impact organizational ombuds have on hospitals and healthcare systems. They can help address some root causes of burnout, stress and dissatisfaction among healthcare workers. Organizational ombuds receive feedback from employees and are able to highlight and raise awareness of patterns and trends to organizational leaders while maintaining confidentiality. This often results in changes that create a healthier and happier environment for everyone.

A significant cause of burnout and stress in the healthcare field is incivility. Christine Porath, a Georgetown University management professor and workplace consultant, researched the problem and found that public-facing employees routinely deal with insults, rants and rudeness.

Read the full article about healthcare workers by Ellen Miller at Forbes.