On The Brink: Doctors, Nurses Getting COVID Burnout

If you think you've got COVID fatigue, just imagine those on the front lines of the pandemic dealing face-to-face with the virus on a daily basis. Nine months into the pandemic, with hospitalizations and cases back on the upswing, some healthcare workers are getting burned out mentally and physically. "There is such a thing as COVID fatigue and burnout," says Dr. Diana Fite, president of the Texas Medical Association. "And it does affect nurses, doctors, and all sorts of healthcare providers at this time."

Dr. Fite tells KTRH that COVID-related issues for health providers range from what they wear to dealing with the public. "We have to don all sorts of PPE (personal protective equipment), including N-95 masks, goggles, and all sorts of other things," she says. "And then having patients or families be angry because everyone's not allowed into the doctor's office or the hospital, because we're trying to keep potential exposures down."

Beyond the physical and social challenges, many healthcare workers are facing mental and emotional anguish. "There are physicians and nurses who haven't gone home to see their babies or young children, because they were so worried about carrying it to them," says Dr. Fite.

All of these issues have led some doctors and nurses to quit medicine altogether since the pandemic began. "What I've seen is doctors and nurses who are older or who have chronic conditions are much more likely to quit," says Dr. Fite. "Many of them were hanging in there at the beginning, not thinking it would last this long."

"Many of them just get to the point where they're worried about catching it or bringing it home to their family, and they're more likely to be the ones who quit."

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