Healthcare professionals cannot provide patients with the right care, at the right time
if healthcare professionals are unable to seek and receive the right care at the right time themselves.
OTTAWA, ON, Dec. 3, 2021 /CNW/ – The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on Canadian health systems. One alarming effect has been the deteriorating mental health and wellbeing of healthcare professionals. The Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists (CAMRT), Sonography Canada (SC), and the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS) are calling for immediate attention to this crisis before it deepens further and critically affects our healthcare system and the care Canadians receive.
We are at a time in history where ignoring the mental health of our healthcare professionals has become a crisis. Within an overworked and under-resourced healthcare system, this situation will only continue as the pandemic begins to calm and we start to address issues such as the large number of delayed procedures and the effects of increased safety protocols that are likely to remain.
- Medical radiation technologists are expected to address the urgent and increasing backlog of medical imaging, as well as support radiation therapy patients with more advanced disease, as a direct result of the pandemic. The chronic burden associated with high workload and increased patient demands has increased the potential for MRT burnout and vicarious trauma.
- Diagnostic medical sonographers are experiencing an increased demand for ultrasound examinations for patients with more urgent medical issues. Staffing shortages and pandemic-related safety guidelines mean that sonographers’ ability to provide compassionate, hands-on patient care and in-depth examination may be compromised. These unrelenting pressures are leading to increased stress, emotional exhaustion and burnout among diagnostic medical sonographers.
- Medical laboratory technologists and assistants are anticipated to experience higher levels of burnout and emotional exhaustion as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since higher levels of social support are a known protective factor against psychological distress, including anxiety and depression, CSMLS will continue to strongly advocate for the medical laboratory profession at federal, provincial, and territorial levels.
Ignoring the mental health of these and other healthcare providers is a perilous gamble for a system that is overworked and under-resourced.
Optimize the wellbeing of healthcare providers and patients will be taken care of too.
No single entity can address these challenges in isolation. Canada needs a coordinated approach involving professional associations, provincial regulators, all levels of government, and healthcare professionals themselves to change the culture of the healthcare system.
Collaboratively, our organizations have been working on strategies to mitigate the mental health challenges of our members and embark on coordinated advocacy efforts. The National Survey on Mental Health is one tool we are using to monitor the mental health of our professionals. Collectively, we are one of the few health professional groups to have gathered and analyzed data pertaining to mental health both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. To review each organization’s mental health data, please see the respective pages for CAMRT, CSMLS, and Sonography Canada. The evidence has informed our strategies and this joint statement.
We believe that mental wellbeing should be treated equally to physical wellbeing. The stigma associated with mental health challenges continues to be a major barrier to healthcare professionals accessing mental health services and supports. For years, this has been clearly identified as a problem, but there has been little concrete action taken.
Together, we seek a system that normalizes and prioritizes the mental health of healthcare providers and access to mental health services, and supports them by:
- Empowering healthcare providers to advocate for their mental health and wellbeing in the workplace
- Promoting timely and appropriate mental health care and support for healthcare professions who work directly and indirectly with patients
- Advocating for more mental health care services and to remove barriers for the uptake of those services
- Monitoring the mental health of those in our professions and welcoming others to join the conversation
- Upholding the National Standard on Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace to improve the work environment for both current and future generations of healthcare professionals
While this call for action is meant to address immediate concerns related to the pandemic, we also believe that much of what needs to be done will also improve our healthcare system. Addressing the mental health status of our healthcare professionals will benefit all Canadians and the care they receive.
Irving Gold, CEO
Susan Clarke, Executive
Christine Nielsen, CEO
ABOUT THE ORGANIZATIONS:
CAMRT: The Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists (CAMRT) is the national professional association and certifying body for radiological, nuclear medicine and magnetic resonance imaging technologists and radiation therapists. Recognized at home and internationally, the CAMRT is an authoritative voice on the critical issues that affect medical radiation technology. Find out more at camrt.ca.
SC: Sonography Canada is the credentialing body and national professional association for diagnostic medical sonographers in Canada. Our entry-to-practice examinations, updated National Competency Profiles and Professional Practice Guidelines continue to provide the framework that enables the profession of sonography to grow, flourish and advance. As an organization, our priorities are to support members through entry-to-practice and enhanced credentialing, accessible continuing professional development opportunities and supportive, member-centric programming and advocacy. Visit sonographycanada.ca to learn more.
CSMLS: The Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS) is the national certifying body for medical laboratory technologists and medical laboratory assistants, and the national professional society for Canada’s medical laboratory professionals. We are a not-for-profit organization that is funded entirely by membership dues and revenues from goods and services. We do not receive operational funding from governments or other organizations. Visit csmls.org for more information.
SOURCE CAMRT, CSMLS and Sonography Canada