As the end of 2022 draws near, healthcare work still needs more workers. With 4.3 million Registered Nurses in our country, there are still a lot of job openings needed to be filled out, especially if it includes other healthcare jobs. There are also a lot of issues that needs to be addressed such as:
1. Building an adequate supply of nurses
2. Creating safe, empowering, and healthy work environments
3. Public Policy that supports quality health care;
4. Laws and regulations that enable healthcare workers to practice at the full extent of their education and licensure.
Even before the pandemic hit in March 2020, there was already a shortage in healthcare workers specially in nurses that represents the largest group of healthcare professionals in the country due to Retirements outpacing new entrants in the field, increased demand for healthcare from aging and chronic disease population, and inadequate workforce support.
The WHO or World Health Organization said that health systems can only function with health workers. So, improving health service coverage and realizing the right to enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is dependent on their availability, accessibility, acceptability and quality. They also projected that by 2030, there will be a shortage of 15 million health workers mostly in low- and lower-middle income countries. The chronic under-investment in education and training of health workers in some countries and the mismatch between education and employment strategies in relation to health systems and population needs are contributing to the shortage.
The High-Level Commission on Health Employment Growth identified six pathways by which investments in health and social workforce can spur inclusive economic growth. The health workforce has a vital role in building the resilience of communities and health systems to respond to disasters caused by natural or artificial hazards, as well as related environmental, technological and biological hazards and risks.
Just this October 20, 2022, the US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy released a new framework for Mental Health & Well-Being in the workplace that outlines the foundational role of the workplace in promoting the health and well-being of workers and our communities. As reports of “quiet quitting” and the great resignation have shown, the COVID- 19 pandemic has changed the nature of work for many and the relationship that some workers have with their jobs.
Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said “A healthy workforce is the foundation for thriving organizations and healthier communities”. He added “ As we recover from the worst of the pandemic, we have the opportunity and the power to make workplaces engines for mental health and well-being, and this surgeon general’s framework shows us how we can start. It will require organizations to rethink how they protect workers from harm, foster a sense of connection among workers, show workers that they matter, make space for their lives outside work, and support their growth. It will be worth it, because the benefits will accrue for workers and organizations alike”.
In the Surgeon General’s Framework for Mental Health and Well-Being in the Workplace, Dr. Murthy outlines Five Essentials for Workplace Mental Health and Well-Being to help organizations develop, institutionalize, and update policies, processes, and practices that best support the mental health and well-being of all workers.
1. Protection from Harm: creating the conditions of physical and psychological safety is a critical foundation for ensuring mental health and well-being in the workplace. In order to promote practices that better assure protection from harm, workplaces can:
· Prioritize workplace physical and psychological safety
· Enable adequate rest
· Normalize and support focusing on mental health
· Operationalize Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) norms, policies, and programs
2. Connection and Community: Fostering positive social interaction and relationships in the workplace supports worker well-being. In order to promote practices that better assure connection and community, workplace can:
a. create cultures of inclusion and belonging
b. cultivate trusted relationships
c. foster collaboration and teamwork.
3. Work-Life Harmony; professional and personal roles can create work and non-work conflicts. In order to promote practices that better assure work-life harmony, workplace can;
a. Provide more autonomy over how work is done
b. Make schedules as flexible and predictable as possible
c. Increase access to paid leaves
d. Respect boundaries between work and non-work time
4. Mattering at Work: People want to know that they matter to those around them and that their work matters. Knowing you matter has been shown to lower stress, while feeling like you do not can increase the risk of depression. In order to better assure a culture of mattering at work, workplace can:
a. Provide a living wage
b. Engage workers in workplace decisions
c. Build a culture of gratitude and recognition
d. Connect individual work organizational mission
5. Opportunities for Growth: When organizations create more opportunities for workers to accomplish goals based on their skills and growth. Workers become more optimistic about their abilities and more enthusiastic about contributing to the organization. In order to promote practices that better assure opportunities for growth, workplace can:
a. Offer quality training, education, and mentoring
b. Foster clear, equitable pathways for career advancement
c. Ensure relevant, reciprocal feedback
These are just guidelines that the Surgeon General made in order for our health workers to have better well-being while enjoying their work.