The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated chronic burnout in providers across the health care industry—and children’s hospitals are no different.
At the 2021 Annual Leadership Conference, Children’s Health in Dallas discussed their growing efforts to create a system-wide culture dedicated to caring for providers and health care professionals. Prior to March 2020, Children’s Health had several efforts already in place, including a peer support network and a dedicated resilience team. However, this wasn’t meeting their current demand.
Tammy Webb, executive vice president and chief nursing officer, and Elaine Beardsley, clinical resiliency specialist, illustrated the need for increased support for staff across the organization, not just clinical providers.
“COVID-19 was a catalyst for changing how these efforts were supported and received,” says Webb.
Engagement and willingness among staff increased dramatically as efforts expanded, according to Beardsley. The resilience team at Children’s Health saw the biggest uptick in a request for recurring appointments. Instead of just one-off meetings, staff kept coming back to work through their burnout-related concerns.
“This work isn’t about bouncing back or jumping forward, it’s about getting through it,” says Beardsley. “Sometimes we trudge through it, but it’s about moving through the suffering. Aligning with our own values and each other.”
The resilience team implemented a variety of efforts to change the culture, including rounding throughout the units with a therapy dog and providing a moment of reprieve during shifts. The team also expanded the options for care, meeting staff where they are, whether its during the night shift, virtually or at a satellite location.
To accomplish system-wide change, the team at Children's Health recommended:
- Contacting staff after safety events occur.
- Engaging executives and gaining buy-in.
- Advertising across the organization, repeatedly, in a variety of outlets.
- Partnering with HR and managers to implement within their existing procedures.
- Capturing data to understand effectiveness and allow it to guide future work.