Barriers to Wellness for Healthcare Providers


a woman smiling for the camera


Kelly Brassil, PhD, RN
Director of Medical Affairs



I recently shared a post about the health risks and barriers experienced by the healthcare workforce. Today, I want to dig a little deeper into three barriers that come before burnout. Plus, I’ll be offering a few solutions to improve wellness in the healthcare workplace. 

01 Schedule: Shift work has been associated with weight gain and poorer health outcomes observed within the healthcare workforce.  While this has been studied among nurses it can also be prevalent for physicians. Trainees working extended on-call schedules may experience this to a higher caliber, as well.  This can translate to a lack of time to prepare healthy meals or being too tired to exercise.

02 Sentiment: It’s not just the stress or the schedule that can be problematic, it can also be the juxtaposition between the message of wellness and what is modeled in the workplace. For example, leaving “on-time” after a 9-hour workday isn’t seen as work-life balance, but as “cutting out early”. Similarly, it becomes more challenging to make healthy decisions about lunch with a fast-food chain in your hospital building. In many ways, trying to be healthy in the workplace can feel like having a triple chocolate cake placed in front of you when you just committed to healthy eating (which often happens in breakrooms across healthcare settings).  

03 Environment: The healthcare setting can itself be a barrier to staff wellness, ranging from the lack of healthy food choices available for purchase to the absence of appropriate safety measures to prevent injury.  Back injuries are especially prominent in healthcare workers. Nurses alone experience over 35000 serious back injuries each year in the United States. Yet interventions to reduce injury, ranging from safe lift technique training to the availability of lift equipment is inconsistent across healthcare settingsOther environmental risks, including needle sticks, chemical exposures, and slips, trips, and falls can also contribute to creating patients out of employees.


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