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Senior clinician exodus poses threat to patient care

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We have all heard of the term burnout. It’s when people feel exhausted from their line of work due to staffing shortages, workplace mistreatment or long hours. It can come from a lot of other factors, but not having a work-life balance is a big reason many people leave their respective professions. 

We also know that burnout is a huge problem in the healthcare industry. The CDC reports that 46% of healthcare workers feel stressed and burnt out from their jobs in 2022. This was up 32% from 2018, and nearly half of workers consider looking for a different job. These statistics show that it is not uncommon for people to grow out of the profession.

Burnout is a problem in general, but we have to think about it in a more narrow sense. Many of these physicians that are leaving are some of the more experienced/senior healthcare workers in the industry. What happens when they all decide to turn in their scrubs? Who is going to teach the new generations entering the system? Where does all that knowledge go? These are valid questions and it’s important to prepare for a mass healthcare exodus. 

The reason this is such an issue is because new doctors deserve and need to learn from people who have years of experience on them. Mentorship and educating does not just stop when people receive their degree, it continues throughout their whole career. The best way to learn is not necessarily through a textbook, but rather through hands-on experience and stories from others. Senior clinicians are the perfect resource to help guide and teach new healthcare workers because they have seen it all.

“Losing senior clinicians poses a serious threat to the healthcare industry. While new graduates bring fresh perspectives, the absence of seasoned doctors means there’s no one to mentor and guide them through complex cases,” says DoorSpace Co-Founder Brian White.

Not only does this exodus affect employee mentorship, it will translate into the level of care that patients are receiving. If healthcare workers are not educated enough and do not have the same level of experience as senior workers, then how can they truly take care of a patient’s every need? They can try as hard as they can, but they might still fall short solely because they do not have the teaching they need to do so. Patients’ lives are the most important thing, and having senior healthcare providers leave poses a bigger risk to their health. 

“The expertise and experience that senior doctors offer are irreplaceable, and their departure can significantly impact patient care. Patients trust and rely on the years of knowledge that experienced doctors bring, which is crucial for their healing process. We must act now to retain our senior medical professionals, ensuring that patients continue to receive the highest quality of care,” White says. 

So what can be done to prevent this from happening? Healthcare leaders need to prioritize not only patient care, but the care of their employees, no matter what level they are at. Executives should work hard to make sure clinicians to-do lists are not piled high and that they have support for whatever they may face. Healthcare leaders need to advocate for their employees and make decisions with their interest at heart. Working to have a hospital that is a well-oiled machine and prioritizing employee training can take some of the stress off senior clinicians’ backs. Working in the healthcare industry is a team sport, and senior clinicians should not have to carry all of the weight on their shoulders. They play an important role, but they deserve to be supported on the frontlines. Patient care is at risk and the road to recovery starts internally. 

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