New normal is taking a toll on health workers: survey

Even though Covid has subsided to some extent, its disruptive effects are about to emerge. One of the most affected communities is that of healthcare professionals. A recent survey by researchers showed there was an increase in emotional exhaustion – a way to measure burnout and well-being – from 32% in 2019, before Covid hit, to 40% in January 2022. The results were published in the medical journal JAMA Network Open.

When The Free Press Journal spoke to healthcare workers, nurses and medical residents, the responses showed that the style of working had totally changed from the pre-pandemic era. The resident doctors, who had direct experience of the pandemic, went through many things that increased their emotional exhaustion and the problem grew even worse after two years of dealing with the crisis.

“It was our first year when the pandemic hit. I was a medical intern at KEM Hospital when Covid broke. All orders for the deployment of doctors were given by higher authorities. Since everything was new to me, I didn’t know how to go about it. I was scared and not at all mentally or physically prepared to handle the crisis. I had never seen so many people die when we had all the medical facilities. All of this increased my emotional exhaustion due to which I had lost my focus on work,” said the KEM doctor who was assigned to SevenHills Hospital in May when the cases were at their peak.

So has KEM MARD President Dr. Sachin Pattiwar who was bewildered during the early days of Covid but has now managed to live with the new normal. “Things totally changed in the first and second wave. We knew what was going on and we had to manage because there was a lot more going on outside of the pandemic. We had to overcome all our obstacles and now things are like before.

However, nurses had the highest levels of emotional exhaustion. Initially during the pandemic, several 41% of nurses reported emotional exhaustion, rising to 46% in the first year and 49% in the second year. This same pattern appeared for all other healthcare positions, but with lower exit rates

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