Viewpoint: The 'last straw' for healthcare workers

Increasing workplace violence has left many healthcare workers feeling unsafe on the job and, in some cases, is motivating them to consider a career change, Harry Severance, MD, wrote in a Sept. 26 op-ed for Medpage Today. 

Dr. Severance, a physician researcher and adjunct assistant professor at the Durham, N.C.-based Duke University School of Medicine, said he's received an increasing number of requests for advice about career change options from clinicians and other healthcare employees citing workplace safety concerns. 

"While most confirm that there are a host of other significant disruptive workplace issues, feeling unsafe has become a 'last straw' now motivating them to consider other options," he wrote. 

Dr. Severance noted that little quantitative data exists to understand how workplace violence may be affecting workforce numbers, though some research has connected violence and/or incivility with workers' intent to leave.

"This continued exodus of healthcare workers threatens many of our already unstable hospitals and worsens the lack of patient access to timely and vital healthcare," he wrote. "Hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare workplaces should be a 'safe haven' for all — patients, families, and workers — not the most unsafe of all U.S. workplaces."

Read the full op-ed here.

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