Fixing healthcare: Start supporting medical professionals
Tuesday, January 02, 2018
Our healthcare system has no shortage of challenges. From the opioid crisis to complicated billing and reimbursement structures, it seems almost every facet of care 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.
This three-part series reviews a few of the major structural issues undermining medical professionals and what can be done on an individual level to pave the way for systemic change. Parts 1 and 2 discuss how the education, training and work environments inherently fail providers and ways to start realigning these systems. In Part 3, we review the overall job satisfaction of medical professionals and ways to rethink what it means to be successful.
From the reported limitations of medical school curricula to the newly developed technical programs offered in high schools and community colleges, few educational programs for medical professionals discuss anything more than their respective areas of patient treatment. Conversations about the importance of nutrition, exercise and other areas of lifestyle medicine are either nonexistent or limited to specialty training programs.
Further, many programs focus on the strength of the medical profession and increasing demand for skilled workers in all fields as a way to attract more students. Yet these programs often neglect to explain the reality of long work hours, significant student loan debt, increased stress related to patient care and the myriad systemic challenges problems facing practitioners.
Such shortcomings within the system will not be remedied quickly. However, providing students and would-be medical professionals with a clearer picture of the challenges they will face is the first step in preparing them for sustainable success.
For example, instructors can incorporate more specific, realistic examples of the challenges providers face, which could include case studies, guest speakers or simply asking more questions around the role these challenges play in the lives of medical professionals.
Nadine A. Kassity-Krich, MBA, BSN, RN, an experienced instructor, coach and co-author of the book, "First, Heal Thyself," notes that what is required now is "a different type of change. A more human prescription and a more deeply personal solution to the problems that ail medicine."
In her book, her classes and with her clients, Kassity-Krich underscores the importance of understanding and creating nourishing habits as early as possible to help providers sustain themselves through such challenges. Kassity-Krich focuses on empowering providers to see the opportunity these challenges provide for more meaningful personal growth, instead of feeling like victims of a broken system.
Instructors, facilitators and administrators can create an immediate, positive impact on medical professional's educational and training environments by starting small and working to improve the experience and approach of individual students and professionals. Such incremental adjustments will help set the stage for improvements in the work environments as we explore in Part 2.
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