It's a bit of an understatement to say that this is a difficult time for healthcare providers. Although providers have never been appreciated more as they risk their lives alongside other essential workers, some have also found themselves in the rare position of being on the receiving end of pink-slips. As patients stay home, elective procedures are cancelled, and hospital administrators are moving to cut costs by cutting what they deem to be non-essential healthcare providers.
Those that are still going into work full-time are unfortunately amongst the highest risk demographic to being exposed to COVID-19 and subsequently spreading it to their families. Many providers have made the difficult decision to isolate from their families while they continue to work. Some providers have made the shift to telemedicine in an effort to avoid exposing both their patients and their families.
Some of our colleagues have also utilized this opportunity to pause, rethink, and reshape their career trajectory into something they find more satisfying. According to the Medscape National Physician Burnout & Suicide Report 2020, the top contributing factors to burnout include too many bureaucratic tasks (55%), spending too many hours at work (33%), and a lack of control or autonomy (25%).
These problems are particularly magnified in providers who are also new mothers. New mothers, who are also providers, have pointed to lack of breast milk pumping facilities, discrimination, lack of access to child-care, and a lack of understanding/emotional support from their colleagues as some of the key barriers in transitioning back into healthcare in a healthy and meaningful way.
We reached out to some of our colleagues who are both new mothers and providers to ask them about their experience in transitioning to telemedicine and its impact on their job satisfaction. We found the perspective of Dr. Annise Chung, a practicing Internal Medicine Physician, to be particularly illuminating:
As a new mother, I worried about how to find a balance between providing for my family and also spending more time with my child. Most people do not think of the medical field as a family friendly occupation, but with telehealth as an option, it can be. With telehealth, there can be greater flexibility for both the patient and the provider. As a provider, there is zero commute time and I can choose a schedule that is flexible for my needs. I have to admit, I, myself was a little skeptical of telehealth and the kind of care that I could provide to my patients. With the ongoing pandemic, however, telehealth suddenly became a necessity. There is no doubt that telehealth, in its many forms, can be an option that satisfies the needs of both the patient and the provider.
-Annise Chung DO, MPH
Are you a new mother and a healthcare provider and would like to share your experience? We would love to hear from you! Please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org