By Robert S. Vinetz, M.D.
Los Angeles Times, Letters, March 10, 2021
To the editor: Dr. Victor J. Dzau’s op-ed article is excellent, but it begs for more attention to the root causes of burnout among healthcare professionals. (“We need a national strategy to help health workers recover from the stress of the pandemic,” Opinion, March 5)
Dzau writes, “We need a national strategy, not only to help healthcare workers recover from the pandemic, but also to mitigate preexisting drivers of burnout.” Many of us are convinced that those “preexisting drivers of burnout” are the long-standing structural, systemic problems embedded in our unnecessarily expensive and too-often harmful U.S. healthcare system.
For any strategy to successfully address burnout, it must include recognition and repair of those structural, systemic problems, which include the following: the toxic priority of profit before health; the demands of information and administrative overload that are relentless, intolerable and function-impairing; and the inadequate attention to prevention, social disparities, racism and injustice.
We can make things better.