FQHC executive leadership is well aware of the prevalence of burnout in their healthcare staff. While community healthcare organizations typically offer better work/life balance over other types of care delivery organizations, since COVID, we’ve all felt an unprecedented strain. The two-year pandemic added a new layer of stress to a profession that is already stretched to capacity. Burnout is the almost inevitable result. What can FQHC leadership do to combat the issue?
Burnout is the emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion that comes from experiencing too much stress. It can affect clinical workflows, the effectiveness of your admin teams, and certainly patient care delivery. How can FQHCs and other community healthcare organizations manage employee burnout and protect their vital human resources?
Steps Your FQHC Can Take to Manage Employee Burnout
Building a culture where your team can talk openly about their feelings of burnout is a critically important first step toward alleviating those feelings. Your staff should understand how to access any support systems your FQHC provides employees. This may include:
- Employee assistance programs.
- Peer support programs.
- Mental health counseling.
- Time off/PTO.
- Quiet areas within the building where overwhelmed staff can go to have time to regroup.
- And more.
But having these programs is just the first step. You must also work to create a professional environment that supports the usage of these programs. Openly talking about mental health issues is an important way to create a culture where these issues are both acknowledged and alleviated.
FQHCs can help prevent healthcare burnout by taking an active role to encourage self-care in their employees. Your goal should be to support the physical and mental health of your employees. What are the symptoms you should be alert to?
- A lack of empathy toward patients.
- Withdrawal and feelings of isolation.
- Emotional and physical fatigue that is ongoing.
- Crying, depression, and over-emotionalism—or, conversely, a striking lack of emotion.
- Eating or sleeping issues and changes.
- Irritability and anger.
- Staff who exhibit frequent call-offs from illness.
Even decreasing patient satisfaction scores can alert your team that staff is struggling with burnout. There is a direct correlation between staff burnout and their ability to provide high-level quality care and care to patients.
Your organization can take steps to encourage staff to practice self-care, including:
- Improving their diet.
- Exercising at least 30-minutes a day.
- Practicing stress reduction techniques.
- Taking time off.
Talking about burnout creates a culture where employees have permission to take the steps necessary to take care of themselves. FQHC leadership can train managers to monitor staff for signs of burnout but also track vacation and time off to ensure that teams get the time off they need to rest and recharge. We know that burnout is insidious and can sneak up on staff. Leadership teams have a responsibility to address these issues regularly to help prevent burnout.
Adequate staffing during times of peak demand at your FQHC is critical to alleviating burnout in your teams. Establishing best practices that improve efficiency during times of high patient volumes is critically important to preventing burnout.
UHC Solutions works tirelessly alongside FQHCs and other community health centers to provide them with the resources they need. We are here to serve these provider partners and ensure they are fully staffed with the clinical and administrative leaders they need to succeed. Call on us. We’re here to help.