Ms. Hester is Content Specialist with Contemporary OB/GYN and Contemporary Pediatrics.
The past year has seen a lot of celebrating of health care professionals (HCPs) for their relentless work during the pandemic, but how are they feeling about their career path and potential for development now? A study offers some answers.
For health care professionals, the pandemic will be the major event of their career. They have had to deal with an inordinate amount of professional stress, yet also garnered tremendous appreciation from their patients and the public in general for their relentless work on the front lines of the pandemic. Additionally, they have found themselves frustrated, watching health messaging get ignored by some state governments and sectors of the population. An investigation in JAMA Network Open examined how the pandemic affected career development, work culture, and childcare needs for those in the health care industry.1
The investigators deployed a survey to all faculty, staff, and trainees at the University of Utah Health system, which included community clinics, hospitals, and specialty centers. The survey mostly had quantitative questions, but there were some open-ended questions. Questions included whether the respondent would feel comfortable taking his or her child to school or daycare; the impact of the pandemic on productivity; what techniques would improve work/life integration; and if the responder had considered leaving the system.
Out of a potential pool of 27,700 respondents, 5030 completed the entire survey. Three-quarters of the respondents were women and the vast majority (86%) were White or European American. Among those who completed it, 2545 had clinical responsibilities and 2412 had at least 1 person aged 18 years or younger in the household. Fifty percent of respondents said that managing his or her child’s virtual education was a stressor and 49% said that parenting in the midst of a pandemic was also a source of stress. One in 5 respondents said that they had considered leaving the health care workforce because of pandemic stress and 30% had thought about cutting their hours. Perceived decrease in productivity was noted by 55% of faculty respondents and 60% of trainees. Almost half of all respondents indicated they were worried about how the pandemic could impact career development and nearly two-thirds of trainees said that they were very concerned about the career impact of the pandemic.
Investigators concluded that as expected, the pandemic has been a source of stress for many in health care, with many respondents reconsidering their career choice or worrying about their career path. The results illustrate an important area for those in charge of practices and health systems to provide support in a variety of ways including more lenient policies that let people attend to unexpected childcare needs and provide services to help manage stress.
1. Delaney R, Locke A, Pershing M, et al. Experiences of a health system’s faculty, staff, and trainees’ career development, work culture, and childcare needs during the covid-19 pandemic. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(4):e213997. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.3997