If you work in healthcare you’re most likely overworked, understaffed, and feel undervalued.
More than ever, healthcare professionals are feeling burned out.
On top that, salary rate increases are minimal, and unlike the tech sector, hospitals are doing nothing to keep their employees happy with their job.
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Healthcare workers don’t take breaks
Did you know that many healthcare professionals don’t take their federal and state required breaks.
As a therapist, I rarely see anyone in my department take a break and many nurses and physicians don’t take breaks and sometimes miss their lunch breaks.
If you work in the tech sector you may see a reasonable salary bonus for increased productivity or revenue. In a hospital, increased productivity or making a life saving catch is rewarded with your name recognized, or a picture on the wall.
Instead of large bonuses, healthcare workers are usually rewarded with donuts or pizza.
A culture of fear and blame
Hierarchical leadership can have a drastic impact on health care outcomesNavindi Fernandopulle
Healthcare also prides themselves with treating employees according to their level of hierarchy.
If you’re a doctor, you don’t just make the most money, but everyone in the cafeteria line knows that you get your lunch for free.
Working in a hospital can be a constant reminder that you’re not a physician.
This can actually cause practitioners to withhold critical communication with physicians and lead to poor discharge, lengthy recovery, or other medical errors because staff was afraid to speak up.
A 2021 article from the national library of medicine reported that “Hierarchical leadership can have a drastic impact on health care outcomes by affecting staff morale, which subsequently affects patient safety. It can lead to individuals being blamed, rather than encouraging a collectively responsible mentality….” And calls out for more effective leadership, flat structures as opposed to traditional hierarchy, and a blame free culture, so the “staff is valued and seen as equals, with their concern being taken seriously.”
Unethical behavior and upcoding
While most medical schools require students take courses on ethics, many healthcare facilities have processes in place that encourage unethical behavior.
Practitioners may encourage patients to take pain medication for anything minor. They are also required to constantly ask patients about their pain levels which can result in taking pain medicine more frequently than needed and lead to addiction.
Upcoding is a term used in health care when patients are over-billed for a procedural code or codes that were not performed.
This happens all the time in health care, and not only are itemized bills difficult to read, they rarely get sent to the patient’s home.
Sometimes doctors don’t even know how they should be using these codes and often bill for a higher cost code that isn’t indicated.
It’s not just doctors but everyone is encouraged to overbill. For example a therapy department may have productivity standards based on the number of units that are billed to a patient.
This can cause therapists to bill for more time than was actually spent with patients, so they can meet their daily quota.
I’ve seen therapists document in patient’s rooms to justify their time spent with a patient or round their time up.
It’s not directly encouraged by the treating facility, but these productivity standards make it easy for therapists to over bill their services.
Delaying patient discharge
One other way hospitals overcharge patients is by keeping them longer than needed. This happened at the beginning of the pandemic when hospitals were discharging patients rapidly to prepare for the wave of patients with COVID-19.
After things returned to more normalized levels, the hospitals began keeping patients longer.
This happened all across the nation. Why?
Healthcare is a business. Even the non-profit facilities need to make a profit, and overcharging is usually the quickest way to increase revenue.
So how can we fix it, or what can we do to make our jobs more meaningful?
How to change it
One way to make your job more meaningful, is to work for yourself. I know it’s not easy to create a business, but you can do this by starting a side hustle and grow from there.
If you don’t want to leave your facility you can make a difference by not over billing patients. Your productivity may suffer and you may not meet your quota, but you’ll unlikely be fired.
If you’re under payed, but don’t want to leave your facility, interview at another facility, and see if your facility will accept a counter offer to keep you. If they won’t increase your salary, consider leaving.
If you are overworked, learn how to say no. If your employer is persistent, split your time at another facility.
If you’re not getting your breaks, start taking them, and don’t worry about what other coworkers think of you. You’re entitled to your work breaks and if you don’t get them, record them and file a claim with your state labor division.
Now what if you just don’t enjoy your job. It’s pretty normal to not enjoy your job. Most jobs are dull, but the trick is to find a way to make it more meaningful.
The key is to become an expert at what you do and share what you learn with others.
If you work with patients but don’t enjoy what you do, find ways to create better relationships with your patients and share these tips with coworkers, on social media, or write an ebook about it or start a blog.
You might also think about ways to make the work environment more positive. I heard a story once about plant managers who made a difference by putting stickers on the back of their hard hats that said, “Have a great day!”
There are so many simple ways like that to create a more positive atmosphere at your facility.
Working in healthcare is stressful and of all people, you know what happens when people have too much stress.
If you need a life revamp check out my other post on how to make life more meaningful with OT, and feel free to share this with someone who needs to it.
And have a great day!
David is the lead editor of OT Focus. He has been practicing as an Occupational Therapist since 2013. He specializes in acute care, hand therapy, and ergonomics.