Medical Residents Need Support — Financial and Emotional — for Their COVID-19 Work

September 4, 2020 by Christen Aldrich

Filed under COVID-19 for Employers, COVID-19 for the Workforce, Engagement & Morale, Health and Wellness

Last modified September 8, 2020

According to this recent article by STAT News, the psychological impact of COVID-19 on health care workers has been significant. Yet residents — doctors in training — are particularly vulnerable to it. In the hierarchy of hospitals, residents are at the bottom, with little autonomy. They are expected to take on a disproportionate chunk of the workload caring for patients in exchange for liability-free training. They are compensated at a rate just over minimum wage.

The response to the pandemic increased the already overflowing responsibilities of residents and extended their work hours. Their direct contact with patients was higher than that of supervising physicians due to their long on-call shifts and the reliance on residents to provide most of the face-to-face physician-based care care when necessary.

Most residents, struggling financially under the massive burden of student loans, were barely making do before the pandemic. The cost of psychotherapy is exorbitant, leaving many residents unable to process their trauma and ongoing anxiety. Without the proper support, residents and other clinicians cannot be expected to sacrifice so greatly for an indeterminate amount of time.

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