Article submitted by Colleen Camenisch
As COVID-19 has impacted the world, the role that physicians play can perhaps be felt in a more global way than ever before. Physicians have played a significant role on the front lines of confronting a virus which is highlighting the fragility of so many aspects of life. One of the areas being highlighted is the impact of this kind of demand on healthcare workers has and the burnout that is comes along with it.
What many people may not be aware of is that physician burnout is not new and is not as novel as COVID-19. The 2020 Medscape National Physician Burnout & Suicide Report states that this year 42% of physicians reported they are burned out. Physician burnout and other work-related physician mental health disorders, and physician suicides are increasing at an alarming rate, particularly in the past 5 years. Unfortunately, the same can also be said for Medical Students and resident physicians. Among medical trainees, suicide is the #1 cause of death today. Approximately 400 MD/DO’s commit suicide each year, which is 4 times the national average
Nevada presents another unique challenge for physicians as we have a significant shortage. According to HRSA in 2017, Nevada ranks 48th for Board Certified physicians (MD’s and DO’s) per 100,000 people. And that’s not all according to the census website, “the U.S. population grew by 0.6 percent and Nevada and Idaho were the nation’s fastest-growing states between July 1, 2017, and July 1, 2018.” This means there will be more pressure on an already strained healthcare system adding more pressure to the work of physicians.
What can be done? The Nevada Physician Wellness Coalition has formed a 501c3 non-profit organization to try and address some of the challenges of physician burnout and to provide resources in order to care for our care givers who give so much of themselves to protect our community. The NPWC delivers programs that provide outreach, education, and supportive resources to physicians and their families to intervene at all stages of burnout and to prevent suicide.
The Nevada Physician Wellness Coalition has a Physician and Family Resource line which is a non-urgent, non-crisis phone line that is staffed by local psychologists with expertise in physician stress. Calls are answered within 24 hours with the purpose of linking physicians, partners, and family members to needed resources. Calls are free and confidential. The number is 775-404-3307. If you or someone you know is in crisis please call 1-800-273-8255.
They also offer on-going programming currently featuring experts from around the country. To find out more about the NPWC go to: https://nevadaphysicianwellnesscoalition.com.