Like most of us, physicians and healthcare workers are experiencing unprecedented emotional issues as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, but thankfully recruiters can play a role in helping to alleviate these emotions.
“Emotions, just like viruses, are contagious,” says Steven Cohen, Psy.D. for Medical Economics. “Physicians who work in a daily atmosphere of severe emotional distress and fear must take special precautions to avoid being overwhelmed by negative emotions.”
How can recruiters help candidates during this stressful time? First and foremost is to remind them that they need to care for themselves.
“No provider is able to care for people on the front lines if they are not well themselves” says Kathleen Ashton, PhD, ABPP, a psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic. Ashton has been leading a weekly virtual meeting for the caregivers she works with in the organization’s Breast Center. But these meetings aren’t about patients – the focus is on the array of issues and emotions the caregivers are experiencing during the pandemic." To conquer stress, Ashton recommends caregivers adopt a ritual at the end of every day – just ten minutes or so to transition from work to home (per ConsultQD).
Here are a few ways recruiters can help caregivers (and others) on the front lines and beyond during these trying times:
- Remind them to take a breath. Deep breathing is a great calming technique. If they need a little help for breathing (or meditation) there are many apps out there, including Breethe, Calm, Mindful, and Headspace.
- Recommend they take a walk. If people are able to just do a little bit of exercise, just walk around or stretch – just to sort of calm the tension in your body, it will help,” Stewart Shankman, PhD, chief psychologist, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Northwestern University, told AARP.com. “If you calm the tension in your body, you calm the tension in your mind.”
- Suggest they give journaling a try. Writing in a journal can be a huge stress reliever and a powerful tool to help reflect and combat depression. Plus, writing can strengthen your immunity, decreasing your risk of illness.
- Reach out and share some online resources. We found these:
• Caregiving for Caregivers during COVID-19 (AMA)
• Comprehensive resource page on COVID-19 (APA)
• Managing Healthcare Workers’ Stress Associated with COVID-19 (National Center for PTSD)
• The nonprofit COVID Staffing Project (a resource for healthcare systems and their staff)
- Encourage them to seek out professional help. Physicians often isolate, compartmentalize, or use distraction to avoid their negative emotions rather than expressing them, but it’s vital now to talk to a colleague or get professional help. Many healthcare facilities (like the Cleveland Clinic) are offering free 24-mental health hotlines for its caregivers. A New York City startup called Real is even offering free mental health check-ins and online events. Virtual help is available everywhere, too. Doximity’s Dialer App allows providers to have a phone call or video visit with their patients right from their phone or desktop (more on that later).
- Remind them to schedule their news and social media time. It’s natural to be concerned about current events and want to stay informed, but with so much new information being released, it can take time (and mental energy) away from other responsibilities and leave us feeling distracted and burned out. Try reminding physicians to monitor their news and social media intake during the day and suggest they have a dedicated time for this. Also, most smartphones have time monitors that users can set to limit the time they spend on specific apps.
- Drop them a weekly note with something positive. Whether it’s an uplifting story you heard recently, an inspiring quote, or just an upbeat message letting them know you’re thinking about them, we could all use a little more positivity in our lives these days and doctors will appreciate it as much as the rest of us!
- Point them toward Doximity resources like free Dialer access, physician-curated COVID-19 news and commentary, and more. Doximity also just released a new telemedicine app that has quickly become one of the most used telemedicine tools in the United States. If you’re talking to physicians who are currently practicing telemedicine, make sure they’ve heard about this great new (and free) feature.
- Thank them for what they’re doing! We’ve all seen the scenes from New York City (and around the world) of people applauding the coronavirus frontline workers – it’s inspired healthcare heroes and all of us. A simple email, handwritten note, phone call saying “thanks for all you’re doing” can make a huge difference.
It’s never been more important to focus on positives whenever we can. So, remind your candidates they are not alone. Or as Rebekah Bernard, MD notes: “Physicians are incredibly resilient - you do not get through medical school, internship and residency without incredible fortitude. We will get through this as well. We just need a little help from our friends, family, each other and, perhaps, a good psychologist.”
Doximity has more resources to help physician recruiters during these times too. Check out other recent articles on our blog for the latest tips and ideas.