I think this piece will likely come as no surprise to anyone in the medical field much less anyone in transplant. Those of us who have worked in transplant understand all too well the stresses and exhaustion that come along with saving lives.
In 2019 the term burnout was officially recognized as a real medical condition as a result of excessive stress and sleep deprivation as it relates to one’s work environment. Transplant coordinators in the United States and likely in the rest of the world experience workplace burnout at greater rates than most other nursing professions aside from emergency medicine. A study published by US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health reported out of 369 transplant nurse participants results-about half reported high levels of emotional exhaustion, “15.7% reported high levels of depersonalization, and 51.8% reported low levels of personal accomplishment. Working more hours per week, lower decisional authority, greater psychological job demands, lower perceived supervisor support, and greater frequency and discomfort with difficult patient interactions were significant predictors of emotional exhaustion. Greater frequency and discomfort with difficult patient interactions were significant predictors of depersonalization”.
On the surgical side, burnout is even more pervasive. Transplant surgeons experience even more burnout due to even less sleep than their counterparts contributing to a less than satisfying work-life. According to a study by Krista L Kaups MD, MSc, FACS Professor of Clinical Surgery UCSF Fresno, Transplant Surgeons (n= 209): 38% reported a high prevalence of burnout. What’s even more interesting is that women were 60% more likely than men to report burnout. Moreover, odds increased 12-15% for each additional 5 hours worked over 40 hrs/wk.
Senior staff psychologist Michelle Jesse, Ph.D., led the Henry Ford Transplant Institute, “At the end of the day, the nurses spend the most time with the patients and wear all the hats in a health system, plus, transplant nurses work really hard trying to get their patients listed to get a transplant, they get to know the family and sometimes it doesn’t work out. And that’s really tough. They’re just an incredible group.” (Medical Express)
It is our experience at Transplant Recruiters that has allowed us to use this daily knowledge to our clients’ advantage. We realize the stresses that transplant coordinators around the United States experience, as well as the pressure transplant administrators, deal with, trying to make everyone in the center/program happy. All the while having to stay on budget and time. No one is saying transplant isn’t worth it, because knowing you’ve helped save lives is what brings us back to such a rewarding career. We at Transplant Recruiters are here to help everyone in this great field feel comfortable they’ve made the right decision to be involved.
To reduce instances of burnout in your transplant coordinators we highly recommend not having your full-time FTEs take after-hours import organ call. We have found that transplant centers benefit greatly by outsourcing their organ call to a contract service provider. This also applies to happier more productive transplant surgeons as well. They might be reluctant to jump on board at first with the idea of having an outside company screen their referrals, but in the long run, they will see that concern is unfounded and they will thank you.