The Great ReExamination
Examining the Pandemic's Challenging Working Conditions for Doctors and Nurses
A survey of nearly 400 doctors and nurses reveals a new normal for clinicians: the majority are rethinking their career and struggling with passion for patient care.
There have been a lot of headlines about how the Great Resignation has impacted the healthcare industry, with 1 in 5 healthcare workers reportedly leaving their jobs during the pandemic. They’re undoubtedly exhausted, overworked, and underappreciated.
But quitting is only part of the story.
We surveyed nearly 400 doctors and nurses to better understand how COVID-19 has disrupted the clinician career path, providing healthcare organizations with greater insight into what they can do to stop the growing pile of pink slips.
As clinicians re-examine their careers, what does this mean for the future of healthcare?
— Survey Findings —
Clinicians are struggling with 'empathy fatigue', a long-term side effect of the pandemic
Now that vaccines have been widely available for close to a year, half of clinicians admitted they’ve had a hard time leaving their bias and judgment at the door with patients who are eligible but refuse to get the vaccine. A greater majority shared they’ve lost passion for their careers because of stress and have considered quitting their job.
They're losing compassion for patients
51% of clinicians admitted they've struggled to be empathetic with their patients who are eligible but refuse to get the vaccine.
They're losing their drive and motivation
58% of clinicians shared they've lost passion for their careers because of stress.
They're looking to leave
57% of clinicians admitted they’ve thought about leaving their job over the last year.
What's driving this discontent?
Clinicians are burdened by COVID-19 misinformation
COVID-19 misinformation is spreading fast throughout social media and other digital channels. 84% of clinicians said they address COVID and/or vaccine misinformation at least weekly. 43% say they address it on a daily basis.
Patient trust is waning
The challenge of combating misinformation is made more difficult for clinicians as 65% believe patients have less trust in medical advice since the pandemic. Only 15% believe patients have more trust in medical advice.
“In medical school we’re taught to leave our bias at the door when we enter the patient exam room. The pandemic has put doctors and nurses in the impossible position of upholding that promise while addressing mistrust and misinformation on a weekly or even daily basis. It’s no surprise that many doctors and nurses are starting to question their career path.”
- Pooja Aysola MD, MBA, Senior Director of Clinical Operations at Wheel
Pre-pandemic challenges remain major threats to patient care
This study uncovered a clear call-to-action for healthcare organizations: burnout and administrative burden are keeping clinicians in crisis mode and directly impacting their ability to provide care to their patients.
Burnout is the biggest threat to patient care
40% of clinicians believe burnout is the biggest threat to patient care today, surpassing staffing shortages (27%), lack of access to care (17%) and high cost of care (16%).
Burnout is also the biggest threat facing healthcare organizations
One in three clinicians (33%) also believe burnout is the biggest threat to healthcare organizations, beating out other well-reported hazards including financial challenges (28%) and staffing shortages (20%).
Clinicians want their time back
50% of clinicians cited administrative burden as the top thing they would change about their jobs if they could, beating out the second-most cited thing - more flexible work schedules (29%). If the pandemic taught us one thing, it's the importance of our time.
From skeptics to advocates: clinicians are eager for change and see an opportunity with virtual care
Despite these troubling findings, clinicians are relatively optimistic and even bullish about the future of virtual-first care.
Virtual care fits their lifestyle
2 in 3 clinicians (64%) said treating patients in virtual-only or hybrid care settings best fits their lifestyle, despite a lack of interest in telehealth before the pandemic.
Clinicians expect to see continued adoption of virtual primary care
58% of clinicians believe there will eventually be a greater volume of virtual visits for primary care needs than in-person visits. Most clinicians think this is happening soon - within the next 5 years.
They're eager to reach patients across state lines
A majority of clinicians (58%) shared they’re interested in getting licensed in more states.
“For many doctors and nurses, the pandemic has pushed them to take a step back and question or even reconsider their career path. By shining a light on the ‘Great Re-examination’ our hope is to provide healthcare organizations with a clear call-to-action. Clinicians are past the point of burnout, but they’re optimistic about what a virtual-first healthcare system could mean for their career.”
- Wheel CEO & Co-founder, Michelle Davey
Clinicians recognize what could bolster or block widespread virtual care adoption
Despite the optimistic outlook, clinicians realize that the path from traditional brick-and-mortar care to virtual and hybrid care remains in its early stages.
More education is needed
76% of clinicians believed virtual care training should be a core competency taught in medical school and for advanced nursing degrees. Nearly half (46%) felt they weren’t adequately trained in virtual care by their practice or employer.
Remote patient monitoring must advance
When asked about what they believe will enable more virtual care adoption, 40% of clinicians said advancements in remote patient monitoring will be critical.
Policymakers must act
77% of clinicians urge policymakers to make permanent the current reimbursement changes created in response to the pandemic.
This is the new normal for our clinical workforce...
Our study uncovered a new normal for doctors and nurses: the majority of clinicians are rethinking their career path and struggling with passion for patient care.
While misinformation and mistrust make their jobs incredibly challenging, they’re also facing an uphill battle with administrative burden, inflexible schedules, and staffing shortages. These findings provide a clear call-to-action for healthcare organizations and what’s impacting their ability to provide great care to patients.
...but there is a silver lining
It's not all bad news. Our survey also uncovered an important silver lining.
While clinicians may be past the point of burnout, they’re also optimistic about virtual-first care.
This highlights a significant shift towards a historically untraditional career path for clinicians. Healthcare organizations often think about how virtual care can benefit patients. Now, it could be just as beneficial for their clinical workforce.
Happier clinicians make healthier patients
This survey confirmed our belief that one of the most direct ways we can improve the health of our country is by starting with clinicians. This is central to our work at Wheel, where our goal is to provide clinicians with the best place to work in virtual care.
We often talk about “personalization” with patients — it’s time we apply the same thinking to clinicians. To help them build a career path that not only fits their lifestyle but also keeps them motivated and engaged in patient care.
The survey was conducted by PureSpectrum, an independent market research platform that gathers insights via online, nonprobability samples collected from panels in the PureSpectrum Marketplace. For more information on PureSpectrum's methodology, visit purespectrum.com.