Recently, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that a record number of workers left their jobs by the end of 2021 – 4.5 million to be exact – and that healthcare was among the top three industries impacted by the “Great Resignation.” A pandemic awakening for many individuals, and a pain point for many organizations, the Great Resignation has prompted employees to quit their positions as they reevaluate their careers and priorities.
While healthcare is not exclusive in its struggle to retain its workforce, it is uniquely challenged because the pandemic itself dictates healthcare workers’ daily priorities and routines. Burnout and staffing shortages were issues before, but with new variants showing up, hospital staff is reeling from prolonged overwork. Some are looking for opportunities to lessen their exposure to COVID-19, while others are seeking better work/life balance and the space to take care of themselves and their families.
More physicians are finding these opportunities by moving into telemedicine roles. Telemedicine has been an invaluable asset for patients and physicians for years, and although not for everyone, telemedicine is an increasingly valuable option that can help doctors achieve their personal and professional aspirations.
For many, work has changed dramatically since March of 2020. Employees exchanged long commutes and water cooler conversations for home offices and virtual meetings; and while there were inevitably some challenges, having a more flexible schedule allowed them to find more of a balance in their personal life, finish projects around the house, and, for those with young children, be available for virtual school days.
Traditionally, it’s unlikely that healthcare workers have been able to enjoy those same benefits, as embracing a flexible schedule can be challenging in an in-person hospital setting. That is why some have opted to embrace telemedicine opportunities. Telemedicine has given physicians the freedom to practice medicine from the comfort of their homes. Without full schedules or long shifts, healthcare providers can also enjoy the flexibility and convenience that working virtually delivers while still practicing medicine and treating patients.
Safer Working Conditions
There is no question that telemedicine effectively limits patient exposure to COVID-19, whether in place of traditional in-person visits or a means of performing initial evaluations in a hospital setting. However, telemedicine also keeps doctors protected by avoiding direct contact with a COVID-positive patient. Through technology, providers can stay connected to patients and deliver care without being concerned about the stress of contracting the virus or passing it along to a loved one.
Furthermore, mental health concerns among healthcare workers have been a growing concern. The pandemic has, without a doubt, taken a toll on everyone, but healthcare workers have endured the majority of that burden. According to McKinsey & Company, burnout, grief, and loss are leading to a lack of motivation and driving workers to look elsewhere for employment. Telemedicine alleviates many of the stressors that doctors face daily by managing the load of dealing with overcrowded waiting rooms and allowing providers to have more focused, meaningful interactions with their patients.
Fresh Income Opportunities
What the pandemic brought to patient volume varied significantly depending on the practice. While many hospitals dealt with overflowing waiting rooms, specialty providers saw a steep decline in patient visits due to stay-at-home orders and fear of exposure. According to the Medical Group Management Association, 97% of the 724 medical practices interviewed reported that COVID-19 had a negative financial impact on their practice, resulting in reduced salaries, diminished work hours, and furloughs.
Telemedicine helps alleviate these concerns because it allows providers to treat more patients in a more organized environment. By easing some of the burden found in hospital waiting rooms, virtual physicians can handle the overflow of cases that may have otherwise been turned away. Telemedicine doctors are also flexible enough to address patient concerns outside of regular business hours and outside of their own city. In addition, telemedicine physicians’ salaries are on par with in-person providers and can sometimes earn more depending on their location.
Every Provider Matters
Even before the pandemic, telemedicine was changing the way hospitals and doctors delivered care, allowing them to utilize technology to deliver better options for patients. What COVID-19 and the ensuing Great Resignation have unveiled is how telemedicine can also deliver new and maybe even better employment options for physicians. By offering more manageable schedules, allowing providers to see patients on their timeline, and offering avenues for financial gain, doctors, once again, can begin to feel more productive, focused, and valued. At VirtualMed Staff, we always welcome experienced and qualified physicians to apply to join our team. If you are looking to make an impact on your patients, your career, and the future of healthcare, find out more.