When the COVID-19 pandemic first began to unfold, my immediate concerns were with how to help save the lives of people suffering from COVID-19. Then it became clear that people with other diseases and conditions were also suffering due to delayed appointments, surgeries and other kinds of care. As the death toll rose, and I heard more stories of families losing loved-ones and of people suffering in isolation, I realized how profoundly overwhelmed the healthcare system was by this crisis.
And there’s one group that deserves our special attention, young healthcare professionals who may have joined a hospital’s staff only weeks or months ago, and had to face a dramatic increase in physical, emotional and social workload overnight. They have held a special place in my heart since I began mentoring them many years ago when I worked as a pediatrician in a hospital. They have often confided in me about those difficult moments on the job, when they felt worn down by high caseloads, drowning in data and burdened by administrative chores. And this was before a pandemic hit.
Already overworked and burnt-out, how are they going to fare during the worst pandemic in living memory?
At Philips, we’ve been closely following the situation and have been deeply involved in efforts to tackle the pandemic. In order to better understand how the pandemic is changing healthcare, we have surveyed hundreds of younger doctors to find out more about their perceptions and experiences in recent months. We learned something quite surprising, but very heartening, from the results — the COVID-19 pandemic has not led to a dramatic increase in younger doctors wanting to leave medicine.
On the contrary, a quarter (25%) of younger doctors reported a greater level of satisfaction at work, and more than one-third (39%) reported a deeper feeling of purpose at work as a result of their work during the pandemic. To me, this is a remarkable finding that underscores the commitment of our young doctors to the care of their patients during this impactful pandemic affecting public health in all countries around the world. For that, I have nothing but admiration and a deep gratitude.
So what can healthcare leaders learn from our new FHI Insights research? Let’s dig into that.