We Will Never Be Where We Were Prior to 2020 

Has COVID changed your view of life, work, and the world?  

We really don’t know what to do about ourselves. We are burned out, anxious, exhausted, apathetic, and/or cynical. There are those who quit, those who retired, those who changed professions, and those who just quit trying. These emotions are bellwethers in the workplace for lots of things that are wrong. Everyone is struggling with life and work balance, and with feeling that after all they gave to the pandemic, it all amounted to nothing.  

Healthcare workers choose patient care because they CARE. It isn’t easy work, and it can be emotionally distressing. But during COVID, it was difficult to do an honor walk for patients who lost their lives without even saying goodbye to the family and return to serve patients who were complaining about masks, or their rights as Americans, or that the pandemic was a hoax, and etc, etc, etc. We started out as heroes only to find ourselves receiving the brunt of the frustrations of our patients.  

This scenario has led to extreme staffing shortages and healthcare facilities with budgets constrained with what COVID costs. It changed us forever and reduced the productivity of trying to ensure patients got the care they deserved. We truly saw distinctions between what some facilities did for their employees and those that did the minimum. Now we face the aftermath. Some facilities still believe that just by paying well, they can attract and retain great people. I disagree that pay alone will solve our problems. 

I wrote a blog on the healthcare exodus of workers expressed as the Great Resignation to different work environments, and now I can add the “Quiet Quitters.” They don’t leave, they just quit trying. These are sometimes described as workers working for a paycheck. This is generally ascribed to job unhappiness. What is job unhappiness? In its simplest form, an employee is no longer content in their work or job position. It can be attributed to many factors including the culture that doesn’t emphasize respect, community, and contribution to the overall group. I could call it disengagement, but I think it centers on everyone wanting to be recognized and appreciated for their work.  

But the truth of the matter is that some of us are in it for the paycheck. And some of us are in it for the personal satisfaction it brings us. Some of us have recognized this as our mission and are in it for the sense of significance it brings us. Regardless of the motivation for our choices, we will be different. We must allow that difference. There is a place for all of us and it is not a matter of what is right or wrong motivation. You can be a quiet quitter, or you can be a rock star. It is a matter of choice. 

Outside our doors, controversies are raging. There is climate change, war, inflation, high gas prices, and the downslide of our retirement savings. We do what we must to balance our life. I know how negative this sounds, but we will never be where we were prior to 2020. I know that it made a major change in my life. I am sure it did in yours as well. We will adjust to our new reality and find ways to compromise for continued service to our patients. Currently, it feels as if COVID never happened. The media no longer talks about the numbers of infected or the current patient deaths due to COVID. Home testing took the numbers game and destroyed it. This leaves the general public in a quandary as to how vigilant they should be about preventing local infections. We should be ever vigilant as we go into the future of patient care as uncharted territory. Each of us will chart an individual course of action. 

Author

  • Marilyn Sackett is passionate about mentoring and education. She has experience establishing and teaching at the colligate level, she was a Director of Imaging for a large healthcare system in the Texas Medical Center, and she led the charge to improve radiation protection and licensure in the state of Texas, to this day she holds license #1 for radiology in the state. A former Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award winner and a Fellow of the American Society of Radiologic Technologists, Marilyn is a pioneer in radiology education.

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