Stress Among Healthcare Professionals: Physicians and Nurses

physicians and nurses

Health professionals are compassionate, driven people who work to make a positive difference in the world every day. While these careers can be rewarding, they can also be incredibly stressful. Often, physicians and nurses prioritize other people’s well-being to the detriment of their self-care, which can cause burnout and lead them to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has further compounded the unique challenges health professionals face every day.

Occupational Stress Among Health Professionals

Working conditions have always been stressful for health professionals, even before the pandemic. However, physicians and nurses have witnessed the virus’ direct effects firsthand as new variants continue to evolve and spread throughout their communities. As essential workers, doctors and nurses routinely expose themselves to contagious illnesses like SARS-CoV-2 and the flu in the line of duty.

Caring for sick patients also involves unique stressors like these:

  • Exposure to suffering and death
  • Ongoing risk of contagion
  • Demanding physical work, with many hours per day spent on their feet
  • Unpredictable schedules

COVID-19 and the Health Care Industry

As the world heads into the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, many hospitals have become understaffed, straining the entire system and introducing additional elements of fatigue, strain, stress and grief for health professionals. Doctors and nurses in short-staffed hospitals have experienced an increased workload throughout the pandemic, which may cause or worsen mental illnesses like anxiety, depression and PTSD.

After contracting the virus, some previously healthy physicians and nurses do not fully recover, leading to a constellation of potentially debilitating symptoms like exhaustion, brain fog, sleep disruptions and cardiovascular strain. The inability to work due to long COVID disabilities can add financial strain and a loss of professional identity to the mix of issues health professionals are facing today.

Warning Signs of Job Burnout

Many high-pressure careers, including those in health care, make it difficult to escape from extreme work-related stress. Being physically and emotionally exhausted means you are less present for your colleagues, family and other people who count on you, and may make you feel like your work is no longer meaningful to you.

Consider these job burnout symptoms.

  • Being cynical about your job and overly critical of co-workers
  • Having trouble getting motivated enough to be productive and do your best work
  • Becoming increasingly irritable or impatient with others
  • Lacking fulfillment or satisfaction with your achievements
  • Using drugs or alcohol to relax or numb your emotions
  • Struggling with fatigue, headaches, gastrointestinal problems and other physical issues

Why Do Physicians and Nurses Choose Providence Treatment?

At Providence Treatment, we believe no hardworking professionals should have to sacrifice their careers to receive the care they need to recover from substance use disorders. We’ve designed our addiction treatment for physicians and nurses to simultaneously address multiple concerns, with the overarching goal of allowing you to return to work.

We understand medical professionals need customized plans that meet their licensing board’s requirements and equip them with the tools they need to commit to lifelong recovery. When you reach out to us, we will respond within 24 hours.

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