Liris P.R. Smith, Mark R. Christopher & Michelle D. Leach
Across Canada, and the world, frontline health care (HC) workers have faced adversity and challenges in delivering quality services during the COVID-19 pandemic. In northern, rural, and remote areas of Canada, these challenges have been amplified due to limited financial and human resources. The demand for services with an increase in cases/waves of COVID-19 has pushed a struggling system to the brink. The purpose of this study was to determine how COVID-19 has contributed to frontline HC worker burnout in the Yukon. A total of 141 regulated HC workers (physicians and nurses) completed the Copenhagen Burnout Inventory, formatted as an online survey, to measure workplace exhaustion across three categories: personal, work- and client-related. Data was analysed by gender, work location and profession. In relation to personal burnout, over half of the respondents in this study reported feeling tired, worn out, physically and emotionally exhausted. Approximately two-thirds of respondents experienced work-related burnout of emotional exhaustion and feeling worn-out at the end of the workday. In contrast, when surveyed about client-related burnout, respondents were less likely to report being tired of working with clients or finding it hard or frustrating to work with clients. The HC workforce is the foundation of a safe and effective HC system. These findings can inform decision-makers and employers on the need to mitigate workplace stress. Supporting HC workers is necessary for maintaining the quality of current and future health service delivery in the Yukon. Without them there is no system to deliver care.