First, Do No Harm: Why Making Clinician Well-Being Just As Important As Patient Care is Critical
In recent weeks, social media has been bombarded with the term “quiet quitting.” Essentially, “quiet quitting” means doing what’s in your job description and what’s in your job description only – not going above and beyond, not taking your job home with you, not doing the jobs of others to fill in gaps that new hires should fill and instead adopting a true work/life balance.
Hypocrite or Hippocratic?
In healthcare, though, quiet quitting is next to impossible. A patient load is a patient load, and clinicians literally take the Hippocratic Oath about the care they must provide to their patients. This Oath, originally written by Hippocrates in roughly 400 BC, suggests patient care above all else. One of the main promises of early versions of the oath still widely quoted today is, “First, Do No Harm.” Shouldn’t that also apply to clinicians or to the bosses and management overseeing their staff who are consistently on the verge of burnout? With healthcare worker turnover rates at nearly 1 in 5 since the pandemic, clearly, something needs to change in the industry to where clinicians’ health and well-being are prioritized just as much as the patients they care for.
In fact, one of the new versions of the Hippocratic Oath written in 1964 by Louis Lasagna, the then-dean of the Tufts University School of Medicine, suggests just that in its last two paragraphs:
- “I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.
- If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling, and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.”
This first paragraph speaks of the obligations healthcare workers have towards those of sound mind and body as well as the infirm; this should extend to themselves and their fellow care workers. And the second paragraph talks about enjoying life and art and experiencing joy, which is very difficult to do when burnout is impending on the job almost every day.
Why Should Hospital Administration Care?
Aside from satisfying the terms of an oath, though, why should valuing their workers’ well-being as much as their patients’ well-being be of such concern for healthcare organizations? Because not only does a burnt-out, disengaged clinician affect standards of care that can trickle down through the whole team, but it ultimately affects a hospital’s bottom line. According to a 2021 NSI National Health Care and RN Staffing Report, the average turnover cost for an RN is $46,100, which equals roughly between $5.2M and $9M in losses for the average hospital.
It is up to organizations to put systems and tools in place that support and celebrate these critical frontline workers to help ease the burden and reengage clinicians who may barely be going through the motions in a job where that lack of engagement can adversely affect patient care.
What Can Be Done to Help?
There are a number of things that healthcare organizations can do to help their staff. In a recent “Scrubs Magazine” article, Jeremy Sadlier, the executive director of the American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration, discusses how to combat clinician disengagement, aka “quiet quitting,” in the healthcare world. Some of these include monitoring employee engagement through increased rounds, recognition and reward programs, career growth opportunities, and even creating forums for honest communication.
Another way to help clinical staff? Providing them with tools that can help them optimize time on the job. Putting an all-in-one clinical smartphone in their hands can help nurses and clinicians in multiple ways. Here are just a few:
- Direct calls between care team members’ mobile handsets saves time from having to be tracked down or travel to a nurses’ station to make and receive calls
- Alarms and alerts routed through healthcare applications to a clinician’s phone allows for patient triage
- Through Nurse Call applications, nurses maintain contact with patients even when they are away from the bedside
- A quieter environment is created when there is less overhead paging or loud alarms and alerts, reducing stress
- Access to their patients’ EHR/EMR right at the point of care streamlines charting and reduces the need for moving around bulky carts
- A phone that also can scan patient ID bracelets, medicine, and more saves time during care at the bedside
Now more than ever, it is critical for hospital administration to rank the health and well-being of their staff just as highly as that of their patients. Putting steps in place like support systems, clear communication, and the right tools to assist on the job can go a long way to easing the burnout healthcare workers are feeling, and in return, to combat “quiet quitting.” “First, do no harm” must extend to everyone in the hospital, from the infirm to the staff.
To learn more about Spectralink’s clinical smartphones – the Versity Family series, visit our webpage here.
Contact us to receive more information on how our purpose-built healthcare solutions can help your staff offer patients fast, efficient, and more personalized care.
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