Doctors, nurses risked their lives to battle COVID. Now they're facing a mental health crisis

May 31, 2022

USA Today

Dr. Gillian Schmitz, a San Antonio emergency physician and president of the American College of Emergency Physicians, has seen the tension in emergency departments, the frontline of hospital intervention, with a rise in both emotional and physical violence targeting healthcare workers in hospitals around the country.  

Add in frustration with a medical system where administrative and clerical demands take time away from patient care and COVID infection remains an ongoing concern – Schmitz still changes in her garage after each shift to protect her husband and children – and burnout, or worse, is to be expected, medical professionals said. 

A shift in recent years in the way medical payments are made, ostensibly focused on quality metrics, has resulted in more focus on how quickly a task can be completed and how many patients a doctor can see, rather than on patient outcome, a situation that hurts morale, Schmitz said.

"When you're constantly asked to do more, with less resources and less support, it is leading to that moral injury where people feel like they are just a widget, that they are replaceable and that they put as much into it as they can but eventually burnout," said Schmitz, saying that the nursing staffing shortage, in particular, could come to "a breaking point."

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