While psychological well-being and resilience is an integral part of our personal and professional life it continues to be a major challenge within the field of healthcare globally, as a result of the significant risk of burnout, and challenges with staff recruitment and retention, writes Dr Claudine Kearney, Senior Lecturer/Programme Director RCSI Graduate School of Healthcare Management.
Healthcare professionals work in highly challenging and stressful environments and are constantly exposed to numerous occupational stressors, that if persistent can result in burnout. Over the last two decades, burnout among healthcare professionals is recognised as a global concern. Such challenges have fundamental personal and professional consequences, with a significant impact on organizational outcomes, employee productivity and quality, safety and delivery of timely patient care. The impact of burnout can result in poor healthcare delivery and medical errors (Kearney, 2022). Critical to address these challenges and make progress, include prioritization by leadership to drive entrepreneurship and innovation, promote healthcare professionals engagement, and promote a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation at all levels throughout the organisation.
Entrepreneurship does not happen without people that are supported and facilitated to address the current gaps in healthcare through viable innovations. Entrepreneurship and innovation is a challenging journey with stages of achievement and fulfillment and other aspects of the journey being more stressful with risk of failure. However, nothing of great consequence happens easily. Now is the time to develop entrepreneurial and innovative activity for the benefit of healthcare while also reducing the risk of individual burnout and enhancing the well-being of healthcare professionals in the delivery of care.
Entrepreneurship and innovation have the potential to reduce the negative impact of burnout among healthcare professionals. Entrepreneurial activity has been found to be strongly associated with well-being (Shir, Nikolaev and Wincent, 2019), helping to reduce burnout and staff turnover. An entrepreneurial mindset is one of vision and passion, with the aspiration to make a real difference. A mindset that is so important to the global field of healthcare. Entrepreneurship and innovation can increase well-being and happiness, giving a sense of value and achievement that competencies and skills are being used to their full potential. Entrepreneurship can help drive personal satisfaction, motivation, well-being and resilience, by supporting and facilitating healthcare professionals in their innovative and entrepreneurial endeavors. Work should be a source of motivation, personal fulfillment, creativity that can contribute to the greater good of what we do and how we do it. The work environment needs leaders nurture this entrepreneurial mindset.
Leaders that focus on teamwork in their entrepreneurial endeavours help promote staff well-being by creating and developing a sense of shared identity among those they lead. Research has shown that leader identity entrepreneurship (i.e., leaders’ focus on “we” and “us” within the team) anticipated higher levels of engagement, and reduced risk of burnout and risk of turnover (Steffens et al. 2018). Through leadership support and facilitation of entrepreneurship and innovation, healthcare organizations can play a pivotal role in psychological well-being and resilience that can motivate and energize healthcare professionals to persevere in the pursuit of innovations, that become a force for positive change and benefit to patients and stakeholders. The benefits of these innovations must be shared, be sustainable and aim to exceed the needs of patients and society at large in what is undoubtedly a challenging environment.
When healthcare professionals have the autonomy to explore and exploit entrepreneurial opportunities to address the current issues in healthcare, they are empowered to make a greater contribution to the field of medicine, which in turn helps reduce the risk of burnout and enhance their well-being. This can bring about more positive change among individual healthcare professionals, which in turn creates more positive outcome for patients, organisations, citizens and society at large. Well-being is imperative for personal and professional drive satisfaction and is aligned with an individual’s ability to work effectively and achieve core goals and outcomes. Reducing the risk of burnout and promoting entrepreneurship and innovation are key steps for healthcare organizations to begin to take action globally. Advancing innovation in healthcare at all levels is possible, time and investment is justified, and return on investment can be measured.
Kearney, C. (2022). Leading innovation and entrepreneurship in healthcare: A global perspective. Edward Elgar Publishing. https://www.e-elgar.com/shop/gbp/leading-innovation-and-entrepreneurship-in-healthcare-9781839104275.html
Shir, N., Nikolaev, B.N., & Wincent, J. (2019). Entrepreneurship and well-being: The role of psychological autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Journal of Business Venturing, 34(5), 105875.
Steffens, N.K., Yang, J., Jetten, J., Haslam, S.A., & Lipponen, J. (2018). The unfolding impact of leader identity entrepreneurship on burnout, work engagement, and turnover intentions. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 23(3), 373–387. https://doi.org/10.1037/ocp0000090