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Doctors: Health care workers are experiencing more than Covid-19 burnout

November 18, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Megan Ranney and Jessi Gold write that health care workers are stressed in unique ways because they are dealing with an already struggling health care system, worrying about their physical safety and trying to be productive on the home front all while watching people spread baseless conspiracy theories about Covid-19.

(CNN)Over the last two weeks, our email, direct messages, and social media feeds have been full of messages from fellow health care workers saying: "I am so tired. "

Most health care workers expected that the autumn would be difficult.

But as cases, hospitalizations, and deaths waned in the summer, we all hoped against hope that this fall, the story would be different -- that our country would come together, wear masks and follow basic social distancing measures.

Health care providers know plenty about working hard.

Even before Covid-19 hit the United States, our health care system was in trouble.

But health care workers' experience during Covid-19 is more than "burnout" (defined by the World Health Organization as "a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed").

We worry about our physical safety and the safety of our friends and family: more than 1,700 health care workers have died of Covid-19 in the United States alone, according to a National Nurses United report.

What's more, we have little chance to recover, to recuperate or to practice self-care -- and little time to process or feel or acknowledge what it was like for us to experience what we did.

So we use the word "tired" or "exhausted" because physical symptoms are a culturally acceptable answer in a field -- and a world -- that still stigmatizes mental health difficulties.

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