Health Tips

6 Ways to Respond to Healthcare in Crisis

There isn’t any part of the world in which healthcare isn’t in crisis. No matter where you travel to, the one thing that every country is experiencing is a critical shortage of doctors and nurses. In fact, there is even a critical shortage in support staff as well as in specialists. While we’d like to blame the pandemic for this shortage, the problem started long before SARS-CoV-2 was identified and if anything, the virus just exacerbated the shortage but did not cause it. Let’s take a moment to look at what we can do in response to this crisis, along with some of the main reasons why these shortages reached a critical stage in the first place.

1. Reduce the Cost of an Education

This is said to be the leading cause of such a shortage of doctors and nurses in the United States. The cost of med school alone is enough to discourage a huge number of intelligent young men and women from pursuing a career in medicine. According to the Credible website, the average length of time it takes a doctor to pay off med school debt is around 13 years. Can you even imagine that kind of debt? Also, doctors don’t rake in the big bucks like you have been led to believe. The average doctor makes less than a Silicon Valley techie, and that isn’t saying much about our priorities as a society. Perhaps one of the things we ‘could’ do as a society is to reduce the cost of a much-needed education or provide scholarships for those students who are serious about becoming a doctor at a time when they are in such great demand.

2. Consider Changing Careers

There are a number of ways in which serious-minded individuals could change careers if they already hold a bachelor’s degree. Baylor University offers an accelerated BSN online for individuals who are interested in working as a Registered Nurse. Instead of going for a second bachelor’s degree, these students would study only those courses pertinent to nursing and would be able to finish after just 62 credit hours. In this way, a student could continue working the job they now hold while studying everything online. There would only be a 2-weekperiod of time at the university, plus the clinicals at the end of their studies. It’s an amazingly effective way to change careers midstream without losing an income in the process.

3. Follow CDC Guidelines to Avoid Covid

One of the reasons why the shortage is even more severe now than it was just a couple of years ago is that the virus has taken the lives of doctors, nurses, and support staff. In fact, the shortage is so severe that many doctors who were set to retire stayed on long past their projected retirement date. One thing we can do as a community is to follow guidelines as laid out by the CDC and the WHO. This may mean self-quarantining if exposed to the virus, masking in public, and getting vaccinated if eligible. While there are some people who cannot get vaccinated, those numbers are small. If we each do our part to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, we could give doctors and nurses a much-needed breather while awaiting new numbers to join their ranks.

4. Schedule Telemed Appointments

Another thing we can do is to schedule fewer in-office appointments. Telemed is a great option for those who are easily infected and can also free up doctors much faster. Without waiting in lobbies with dozens of other patients, we can see our doctor in a matter of minutes whereas an in-office visit could have us there over an hour at the very least. Telemed is faster and safer and this why it is now becoming the ‘norm’ as opposed to an alternative as it was just a year ago. Unless you have some life-threatening illness that necessitates an exam, Telemed can reduce much of the burden on an overburdened system.

5. Avoid Elective Procedures

There are still altogether too many patients scheduling cosmetic and other elective surgeries that have nothing whatsoever to do with their health. Yes, they have a right to liposuction, for example, but to schedule that kind of cosmetic procedure now when healthcare is in crisis just doesn’t make sense. In fact, some doctors around the world are refusing elective procedures until the crisis is abated. They are taking it upon themselves to offer only those medical procedures that are necessary for the health of their patients.

6. Volunteer If Possible

If you have ever been greeted by those kindly ladies and gentlemen at the front desk of a hospital, you have probably just been greeted by a volunteer. Hospital auxiliary clubs often work as greeters and will mind a desk, take phone calls, or guide people through the confusing maze of hallways in large hospitals around the country. There is even a shortage of volunteers at this time because COVID has hit the aging population harder than most other segments. Although it isn’t required that you are a retiree to be a volunteer, this is generally the segment of the population with time to spare. If you have even a few hours a week to work as a volunteer, know that your services are greatly appreciated.

Also Read: Funding an Advanced Nursing Degree: Everything You Need to Know

There really is something we can each do to somehow alleviate the healthcare crisis. From rescheduling elective procedures down a way so that those doctors and nurses will be freeto take on critically ill patients to changing careers or volunteering, if we each did some small thing we could ease the burden a bit. Perhaps the biggest thing we can do if we are of working age would be to consider a job in healthcare because the shortage really goes that deep. Whether you want to lobby your congressmen to do something about the cost of education or volunteer a few hours a week, your efforts, large or small, will have a huge impact on healthcare in crisis.