COVID-19 is disrupting nearly every aspect of daily life and placing unprecedented demands on our society. A rapid increase in stress and burnout is being seen across the country as the pandemic progresses. Has this become our new normal? Interestingly, in the world of organ donation and transplantation, it has not slowed down. Just over 19,000 deceased donor transplants have been performed in the U.S. through July 31, which is 550 more transplants by the same day last year(1).
The challenges ahead
Due to COVID-19 and the rise on clinical demands, we have seen an increase in stress and burnout on the transplant community while covering additional shifts to compensate for the absence of their colleagues who have become ill or who are quarantined.
Healthcare professionals are not only experiencing a rapid increase in the volume and intensity of their work but are also having to cope with additional challenges such as changing protocols and encountering unfamiliar working environments with little opportunity for orientation and training. Healthcare professionals are also likely to experience moral and ethical conflicts that challenge their beliefs and personal standards of care. The resulting psychological distress can have profound and long-lasting effects on their mental health, identity and personal relationships(2).
Support is needed
It is known that healthcare professionals are in particular need of support initiatives to help mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on their current and future well-being. Staff should have access to several resources such as online therapy and group counselling sessions, along with online tools to help manage symptoms such as anxiety and sleeping difficulties. Healthcare professionals should also be aware of the early signs of stress and burnout and ensure they practice self-compassion and prioritize self-care(2).
Reduction of noncritical work activities may help to promote mental well-being. Examples may include rescheduling preventive and routine patient follow-up visits and eliminating nonessential administrative tasks (3). Franklin Covey recommends building good personal habits that foster resilience, managing your workload, re-assessing your relationship with your manager, and clear communication and expectations with your team(4).
Society is relying on our healthcare professionals to meet the needs in donation and transplant despite of the medical challenges presented by COVID-19. Our healthcare providers should be able to count on the healthcare systems in which they work to protect their mental health as well as their medical health. We need to support each other during these challenging times. 2020 will be a year to remember. NATCO supports and empowers procurement and transplant professionals to reach their highest potential and we will walk along side you during these unprecedented times. We will remain optimistic as we navigate our new normal.
- Kinman G, Teoh, K, Harris. Supporting the well-being of healthcare workers during and after COVID-19. Occupational Medicine. 2020; 70:294-296.
- Dewey, C, Hingle, S, Goelz, and Linzer, M. Supporting clinicians during the COVID-19 pandemic. Annuals of Internal Medicine. 2020; 172:752-753.
- Franklin Covey. Feel like you’re headed for burnout? 6 ways to help prevent it. https://aap.jhana.com/blog. Accessed 9/22/2020.