Let’s talk about it…burnout. Just about anyone working in healthcare right now is burnt out- Nurses, Therapists, HR, agency recruiters. I don’t think it matters what capacity you’re in, everything is reactive these days. After almost a year, we are all just still reacting.
Our healthcare workers are experiencing compassion fatigue, which is likened to PTSD. By definition, compassion fatigue is a condition characterized by emotional and physical exhaustion leading to a diminished ability to empathize or feel compassion for others. We are seeing this a lot with our travel nurses-they are tired of telling people to stay home or arguing over the validity of wearing a mask. They are tirelessly caring for patients, many of whom won’t survive COVID. Could you imagine a job where you not only cared for sick and dying patients, but also served as their only connection to family and friends? You hold their hand when they are scared or hold the phone for them so they can facetime a loved one for the last time?!? And we’re not just talking about one bad shift, we are talking about the reality of their career for the past year. They are tired. They are finding it hard to empathize and many of our frontline workers are losing sight of why they got into this profession in the first place. And you know what, I don’t think anyone can blame them.
But there’s a second group that burnout is hitting particularly hard. It’s the recruiters and account managers at our healthcare staffing agencies who are tirelessly working to fill the endless job openings for healthcare workers across the country. By most accounts, jobs are up 250% over this time last year. Bill rates are topping out at triple what they go for in a normal market. Hospitals are desperate and the only relief they can get is through their agency partners. Recruiters are averaging 60+hr workweeks-most don’t know what day it is anymore-weekends are a thing of the past.
We are seeing healthcare workers on social media collaborating on the best ways to walk off of a job and berating recruiters because their pay rates are “laughable”. We are seeing the highest number of backouts, terminations, cancellations and candidate ghosting’s than we have ever seen-in some agencies, 30+% of their contracts fall into one of these categories. It’s astonishing…and it’s exhausting. Our recruiters begin to lack empathy and lose faith in the recruitment process because they feel the work they do is in vain. They become cold, they become order takers.
What our frontline workers and what our recruiters are experiencing are certainly not the same, but their experiences still result in physical and emotional exhaustion. Body aches, exhaustion, insomnia, inability to cope, loss of empathy.
It’s not easy, for anyone right now. And we’re all struggling with our own demons. So cut yourself some slack, cut others some slack too. Seek support, from co-workers or friends. Try relaxing. Have patience. Most importantly, practice mindfulness. Tackle one thing at a time. Take one moment at a time. And remember, we’re all in this together.