3 Minute Read
I’ve been tempted to throw my laptop/ iPhone across the room in recent weeks. This coronavirus thing and the political and economic chaos it has wrought, not to mention the morbidity and mortality that accompanies it have pushed me to the brink. And many healthcare professionals have intimated to me that they feel similarly. These are hard times no matter how rosy a picture I have painted about the possibilities for integrated care.
In the midst of this I have come to cherish my CFHA community even more. Obviously I am biased as the CEO of the association, but honestly I would not have the resilience I have today if it were not for our members. There is no other place where as a healthcare professional I can feel at home, supported by people who don’t care about what guild I belong to and who think, feel and act like good teammates. That is what characterizes a CFHA’er: a common desire to be a good teammate and a desire to fix systems that keep teams in healthcare from flourishing.
So, I have a confession to make. Across my now almost 20-year career I have often faced moments in my career where I simply wanted to quit. Integrated care is hard work. Often it is humbling work. Healthcare is hard work especially given that the systems of payment and regulation which spur the development of siloed care systems make it even harder. So the desire to quit my jobs has been a frequent temptation. Now I suspect that many of you reading this have also had that thought pass through your mind. Perhaps your organization is asking everyone to take a 15% paycut. Perhaps telehealth work is straining your internal resources as a natural extrovert.. Perhaps COVID-19 showed you things about your organization or health system that don’t sit well with you.
My advice: don’t quit. We can get through this. Despite the chaos around us I still believe that healthcare will come out a better industry than it was at the outset of the pandemic. And that gives me hope that your organization and maybe your team will too. In fact here is a laundry list of things I hope will come of this pandemic that may breath some hope into our weary healthcare provider souls:
- Increased focus on wellness for medical teams
- Increased focus on “teams” as antidotes for professional stress and burnout
- Real self-reflection from organizations on their roles in promoting stress and burnout, especially for racial/ ethnic minority staff
- Increased valuing of behavioral health integration and staff
- Real progress on value-based payments to make sense of the new world of telehealth and asynchronous healthcare along with integrated care
There’s probably more I could list but right now my pandemic brain isn’t working quite at capacity. And that’s my final point. Don’t quit now because the truth is none of us is thinking perfectly straight. These are challenging times personally and professionally and our capacity is not quite the same. If you are a team leader you should be considering this as you approach your team’s work plan and feedback cycle. We can’t be as productive as we were when our kids are not in school, our vacations are not really vacations and going out to dinner feels like playing Russian roulette.
We can and will outlast all of this. That’s what I keep telling myself. We do it by being good teammates to each other, by picking each other up. That’s what I try to do at CFHA and what I try to encourage our members to do for each other. We can do this at the national level and the local level with simple acts of kindness and awareness of the realities we are in as healthcare professionals. CFHA members are a special breed who do this instinctively. If you aren’t a member, I encourage you to join our guild-free movement. If you are, then thank you. You are the reason I’m not quitting.
And by the way, I’m really sad that I won’t see you all in person this October. Really sad. But I hope you all join us for our online conference – I’m looking forward to us getting together and reminding ourselves once again, not to quit.
Travis Cos, PhD says
An affirming statement and strong reminder of why we are needed more than ever—to support those that are suffering and to be visible leaders in wellness, prevention, and chronic disease amelioration. Thank you Neftali for the needed boost and wish your phone/laptop the best in these trying weeks and months ahead.
It has been amazing to me the gratitude of the patients I call each day and how some of them despite incredible odds are not only surviving but learning to cope with a changing landscape due to the COVID-19. It is a privilege to walk along side these brave folks.