New programs offered to help Colorado healthcare workers experiencing burnout

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DENVER (KDVR) — A recent survey of Emergency Physicians spread out across the country shows 87% feel more stressed now than they did at the beginning of the pandemic.

To combat this growing problem, hospitals, including UCHealth’s, took notice and created a new committee to address burnout.

A major concern when it comes to helping helping healthcare workers who are combating burnout is the fact many doctors and nurses who are are experiencing effects of it are afraid to reach out for help.

“I think sometimes it’s unfortunately seen as weakness in our industry where you asking for help is seen as weakness,” said Elise Phelan, a registered nurse at UCHealth.

Prior to the pandemic, Phelan experienced burnout herself. She’s familiar with the signs of it and sees it in some of her colleagues.

According to data from the National Center for Biotechnology Information, about 45% of healthcare workers don’t feel comfortable seeking mental health treatment due to concerns over workplace stigmas and other professional fears.

“I think we’re getting better at recognizing it and recognizing that it’s not weakness – and that this is a human condition and that we are human. And that this needs to happen. That we really need to take care of ourselves to be present to take care of other people,” Phelan said.

At UCHealth, Phelan helped create a program to assist bedside nurses dealing with burnout related problems.

It’s called, ‘The Resilience Program’. It started as a once-a-month in-person meeting bringing assistance to staff members — including animal therapy with puppies!

“So we could all just pet a puppy for a little bit! I brought in a nutritionist, I brought in a massage therapist, I brought in spiritual care. All the presentations on just kind of little things and how we can better take care of ourselves,” Phelan said.

Phelan added the important of self-care right now for healthcare workers.

She also suggests people working in her industry get outside for daily exercise, to remember the little moments in life and to think about their friends and family each day.

“It’s so hard because sometimes I feel like we feel we’re burdening our friends that don’t work in the healthcare field,” Phelan said. “And that’s not true. Our friends and our family want to be there for us”.

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