A new podcast featuring Australian specialists explores how the COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on doctors’ mental health wellbeing, both negative and positive.
In the Health practitioner wellbeing in the pandemic era and beyond podcast Dr Jane Munro, a rheumatologist, psychiatrist Dr Kym Jenkins and clinical psychologist Margie Stuchbery share their personal and professional insights on health practitioner wellbeing.
They discuss how aspects of the pandemic such as risk of infection, workplace disruption, loss of income and caring for children at home have added enormous pressure to the daily lives of health professionals in Australia.
The podcast, produced by AHPRA, also allows the three clinicians who are advocates for practitioner wellbeing to share their practical and evidence-based strategies to safeguard and support doctors and teams through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
“The impact for a lot of people in their home and professional lives has been really huge, and that has been dependent on people’s reserves and how they were supported in their workplace, says Dr Munro.
Seeing the grim impact that COVID-19 pandemic had in countries such as Italy before it hit Australia provided an ‘early warning’ advantage but also heightened the anxiety and stress for doctors, she says.
“There was a long period of time, particularly for hospitals where people were preparing and we weren’t sure how it was going to play out in Australia: was there going to be a tsunami of cases or not?”
“People were using a lot of words around war and battle and people were very scared about their own health, they were worried for their patients, and worried for their family members.”
But the podcast also highlights the practical steps that healthcare professionals have taken to manage the pandemic and the way this has helped mental wellbeing.
“I think there have been some positive psychological impacts of the healthcare community working together, not just hospital and healthcare professionals but in the bureaucracy, building things together and internationally – I’m in a number of WhatsApp groups sharing information,” says Dr Munro.