In continued appreciation and gratitude for:
The healthcare workers who brought us to where we are now. A place where some look down and behind them and boldly proclaim the pandemic is over (it is not), while others take a deep breath and a moment to appreciate how far we have come; the men and women who administered medical care, kept hospitals functioning, sacrificed their home lives, jeopardized their health, and in some cases lost their lives to benefit strangers.
Two years ago we cheered them, held mini drive-through parades in their honor and called them heroes. Today we no longer show them our collective appreciation, reverting instead to our habit of taking them for granted.
Earlier this year the New England Journal of Medicine published a commentary by U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy in which he talked about burnout among professional healthcare workers.
He wrote that one study revealed 52% of nurses nationwide were considering leaving clinical practice, while for doctors the figure was 20%. Considering that we are still in the pandemic phase of COVID-19 (albeit it is seemingly mild for now), and the regular flu season has arrived early in addition to a respiratory syncytial virus that is straining pediatric wards, the looming exit of thousands of healthcare workers should be alarming.
Murthy also writes that by the end of this year their will be an estimated nursing shortage of one million, as many of them—and their colleagues—have left the profession altogether.
The reasons for the exodus are varied but a recurring theme is burnout. The ongoing pandemic has worn them down mentally, physically and emotionally.
Turns out the super heros among us are just as human as we are.
Yet, over time, we have let our selves be distracted by our new found and ongoing return to normal.
The healthcare system remains broken for patients while the employees are still overworked, underpaid and underfunded.
The nurses and doctors who have remained are limping along to get us through this health crisis knowing that another one will come and they will most likely be under prepared through no fault of their own. A tough place to be. Spare them a thought and gratitude this season of thanks.