Given the attention now paid to implementing national health reform, the bulk of which is now upon us as 7 million new individuals now have health insurance, one important issue remains largely ignored by policy makers and industry leaders–health care workers are very unhappy.
A 2012 national survey of 24,000 physicians across all specialties found that if given the choice, just over half of these doctors — only 54 percent — would choose medicine as a career again. Fifty-nine percent of physicians in a 2013 survey could not recommend their profession to a younger person, and forty-two percent were dissatisfied in their jobs. Forty percent of physicians in another 2013 national survey self-identified as burned out.
Nursing has gained the moniker of one of the least happy jobs in America, with nurses traditionally experiencing high rates of job dissatisfaction, burnout, and turnover. Some of the reason for this malaise among our highest status health professionals has to do with the stressful, uncertain nature of health care work.
But it also is an outcome of the everyday worlds in which all health care workers now find themselves: a world drenched in paperwork, packed patient schedules, and decreased control. In short, the new world of health reform.
We are in the midst of a technological and business revolution in health care delivery. We are also on expanding patient demand in ways not seen in generations. But we are not meeting the needs of health care workers, who are expected to produce at a higher level than ever before.