UTC health care workers study

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – Dr. Mukta Panda compares physician burnout to post traumatic stress disorder.

“Because of the daily trauma of grief of pressures from external sources and not in a safe space to unpack, it leads to where it sort of erupts,” Dr. Panda said.

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The Physician is also a UTC professor, assistant dean at the UTC College of Medicine and is the author of “Resilient Threads: Weaving Joy and Meaning into Well-Being.”

Now, she and UTC Psychology Professor Chris Cunningham are teaming up to take a closer look into burnout in the health care environment.

“We know what are the factors that lead to that. There are external factors. There are internal factors of how we cope, but what is it that allows people to still find meaning in spite of,” Dr. Panda said.

Dr. Panda and Cunningham are conducting a study into this.

“Our goals for this project are to really dig into the positive side of how folks who work in health care provision environments are able to maintain a sense of meaning and motivation as they’re doing their work,” Cunningham said.

The study focuses on not just doctors and nurses, but also administrators and staff.

Cunningham said the study includes interviews with people who have been able to take care of themselves well in challenging environments.

“We’re hoping to learn essentially from these experts if you will what is it that has allowed you to stay strong, to stay well, to stay healthy despite the challenges of this work,” Cunningham said.

It’s research that might be more important now than ever as folks working in these environments are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is a time where we’re really going to be able to learn from people that are doing a great job of managing these challenges,” Cunningham said.

Cunningham said that they hope the study will answer research questions and more.

“We also hope that the interviews that we conduct and some of the other findings will be able to be used for educational materials for people who are entering health care training programs and also just for general education for support organizations like the local life bridge group that supports physicians.”

They hope to have preliminary data by early next year.