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LMS President’s Message: February 2023

LMS President’s Message: February 2023, The healthcare environment has changed, and we need to change with it.
By Lee Dossett, MD

As physicians, we are all well aware of the rapidly changing environment in which we work. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the healthcare industry has faced unprecedented challenges and stresses. One of the most significant impacts of this crisis has been on the nurses and staff who make up the backbone of our healthcare system.  Nurses and other healthcare staff have been on the front lines of the pandemic, working tirelessly to care for patients and keep our hospitals and clinics running. They have faced long hours, high levels of stress, and the risk of infection, all while being essential to the care of those most in need.

Despite their heroic efforts, many nurses and staff have been leaving the healthcare industry in droves. According to a recent survey, nearly one in three nurses are considering leaving the profession, with many citing burnout and lack of respect as major factors. This is a troubling trend that threatens to further strain an already overworked and understaffed healthcare system.  In my role of Chief Medical Officer of a large hospital, I frequently hear from physicians about the high nursing and staff turnover and how it affects them and the care they can provide.  Administrators can mitigate nursing shortages by hiring nurse travelers and new graduates, but they all require orientation and physicians are frustrated in the inefficiency and learning curves that creates.  From the other side, I hear concerns from nurses about physicians displaying that frustration in public in both micro and macroaggressions. 

Creating tense or hostile environments is counterproductive to the goal of retaining good staff and producing excellent patient care.  As physicians, it is our responsibility to do everything we can to support and respect the nurses and staff who make our work possible. At a minimum this means recognizing the hard work and dedication of these individuals, treating them with the respect they deserve, and providing them with the resources and support they need to do their jobs effectively. 

In short, the healthcare environment has changed, and we need to change with it. By treating our nurses and staff with respect and providing them with the support they need, we can help to stem the tide of nurses and staff leaving the healthcare industry and ensure that our patients continue to receive the best possible care.