This is the third article in a three-part series on the healthcare industry: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

From the opioid crisis to complicated billing and reimbursement structures, it seems almost every facet of healthcare has issues. Yet this mountain of problems is not insurmountable. In fact, the opportunity for the greatest impact and most positive change is something that starts on an individual level: creating better support systems for medical professionals.

In this third article in our series, we review the overall job satisfaction of medical professionals and ways to rethink what it means to be successful.

Tough choices

Starting a job stressed both physically and financially from school is challenging but happens frequently across professions. However, adding the additional strain of working long hours while caring for patients in environments with little tolerance for mistakes can make medical professionals' lives more miserable.

Throw in complicated billing and reimbursement systems, negative public perception and relentless political arguments threatening to revamp everything, and it makes it difficult to understand why anyone would want to enter the field of healthcare.

Many medical providers, particularly nurses and doctors, have significantly higher rates of suicide and depression. Further, as noted in Parts 1 and 2 of this series, education and training programs often do not provide students with a clear picture of the personal and physical demands of the jobs. Nor do they provide tools to support healthy habits medical professionals need to meet these demands.

Being good is easy

Fortunately, the path to job satisfaction for medical professionals starts with individual contributors on the team, department or organization level deciding to acknowledge the problem and opening the dialogue to look for ways to make developing and maintaining sustainable, healthy habits easier.

Specifically, instead of rewarding unhealthy behaviors as Nadine A. Kassity-Krich, MBA, BSN, RN, noted in our earlier article, we can create programs and systems that focus on behaviors that are healthy to reinforce. Famous for reducing recidivism from 65 percent to 5 percent as head of the Richmond Police Department, Ward Clapham's Positive Ticket program shows that well-established systems with equally entrenched problems can be turned around starting with simple, on-the-ground tactics that recognize positive actions.

Similarly, Philip Zimbardo has a lifetime of work illustrating both sides of the issue. From his prison guard experiment at Stanford in 1971 to his current work training everyday heroes, he shows not only the negative affects of toxic environments and the bystanders allowing them to happen, but also the amazing impact taking small steps to adjust perspective can have on changing those environments.

The bottom line is, solving any aspect of the healthcare crisis will not happen overnight. Yet creating better support systems for medical professionals is a great place to start. Success will require a seismic shift in the way we approach education and training, but that success starts with individual leaders acknowledging the problems and allowing open discussions about them.

Discourse from those discussions can pave the way for incremental changes in the field. Over the long term, those changes will create a positive impact regardless of any shifts in the overall healthcare industry.

The key is for individual contributors at any level to make embracing more sustainable habits easier. Doing so will positively impact providers and their patients.