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Wellness in bites can help reduce burnout in healthcare workers

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The 2022 Annual Conference Session of the Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association focuses on methods to improve emotional exhaustion among pharmacists and other healthcare providers.

According to John G. Kuhn’s keynote address at the 2022 Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association Annual Conference, bite-sized wellness strategies can help reduce healthcare worker burnout .

“This period that we are in right now is not the time to tell people to start training for a triathlon, or start with yoga, or start with meditation. We just don’t have the initiating energy to do this right now,” said J. Bryan Sexton, PhD, director of the Duke Center for Healthcare and Safety and Quality at Duke University Health System, in the keynote address.

“If you were doing these things before the pandemic, maybe look at these practices now, but what people need right now when there’s so little gas in the tank are these strategies of the bite size.”

Burnout, which is the impaired ability to feel positive emotions, can lead to lower patient satisfaction, more infections, more medication errors, and higher standardized death rates.

When a person is exhausted, it’s harder for them to experience positive emotions, like being thankful, thankful, or even experiencing joy, Sexton said.

However, positive emotions are necessary to feel purpose and meaning, but it can also help reduce the implications of burnout. These emotions, such as fun and serenity, can help recharge an individual’s internal battery, which is depleted when an individual experiences burnout.

Sexton said co-workers can also affect an individual’s level of burnout. According to Sexton, about a quarter of well-being is determined by the people a person works with. Burnout also tends to lead to more disruptive behaviors in the workplace. If a person is more burnt out, they may tend to be more rude to their co-workers, which may manifest as bullying or harassment. It would negatively affect their colleagues, and then the cycle would continue.

Burnout is contagious, but so is well-being. If a colleague experiences more positive emotions, it is more than likely that others around him will do the same.

“Think of wellness as your ability to do things,” Sexton said. “As your well-being is compromised, your ability to do things is also compromised.”

Wellness is the ability to see both the good and the bad through situations, without one dominating the other, he added.

Sexton tested a method called “3 good things”, which simply involves writing down 3 good things that happened every day for 15 days. He said that by doing so, by day 15 there will be a significant improvement in emotional exhaustion.

Sexton noted that this “2-week dosage” is the ideal timeframe for healthcare workers.

“[At day 15], what we found was that happiness increases and stays up to a year later,” Sexton said. “If you do it for 15 days, your burnout goes down a month and it stays low 12 months later.”

He said it doesn’t just work with burnout, but also with depression and anxiety, with the same results.

People are wired to remember the negative, so focusing on the positive reminds individuals to focus on the positive. Moreover, doing this practice before bedtime also helps in improving an individual’s sleep.

Finally, with practice, each day it becomes easier to find 3 good things that happened that day, so an individual does not have to wait 2 weeks to feel the full effect of this practice.

Reference

Keynote address by Sexton J B. John G. Kuhn: Bite-sized well-being in times of uncertainty. 2022 Annual Conference of the Pharmacy Association of Hematology/Oncology.; April 1, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts.