Opinion: How gratitude can combat a major patient safety issue — clinician burnout

In a recent Portland Press Herald op-ed, Judith Tupper, managing director of the Population Health and Health Policy program at the University of Southern Maine, explained how gratitude can combat burnout among healthcare workers.

According to Ms. Tupper, "More than any other sector of the workforce — more than combat veterans, police, fire and rescue personnel, airline workers and middle school teachers — individuals who work in the healthcare field experience higher levels of emotional stress and burnout."

Ms. Tupper also explained how burnout is more than just a staff satisfaction issue; it's a patient safety issue.

"Burned-out healthcare workers may not be able to focus on patient safety and quality improvement," wrote Ms. Tupper. "Many preventable employee injuries and patient errors could be avoided with greater attention to stress management and work-life balance strategies."

So how can hospitals and health systems combat burnout? According to research Ms. Tupper cited, exercises in gratitude is just one simple and effective technique that can build resilience to burnout, depression and work-related conflicts.

"Specifically, gratitude publicly expressed from employers, coworkers or patients — appreciating the significantly hard work these professionals do every single day — is extremely effective in preventing burnout," Ms. Tupper wrote.

To read the full op-ed, click here.



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