In a three-part session on burnout and depression of healthcare providers during COVID-19: diagnosis and approach at Euroanaesthesia 2020, Dr. Miodrag Milenovic of University of Belgrade and Clinical Center of Serbia, Emergency Center, talked about the occupational wellbeing in healthcare providers during the pandemic. 

Dr. Milenovic highlighted the fact that the field of anaesthesiology is already quite stressful, but now with the COVID-19 pandemic, anaesthesiologists and intensivists are the frontline fighters, striving hard to save patients' lives while putting their own at risk. While healthcare providers are committed to serving patients, no matter what the risk or situation, the uncertainty of it all, lockdowns, social isolation, lack of support, and disruption to regular routines have all resulted in a significant deterioration in the professional wellbeing of anaesthesiologists, intensivists and other healthcare providers.

Dr. Milenovic discussed several factors that are contributing to professional uncertainty. These include the transmission of the virus, risks of intubation, fear of infection and spreading it to families and co-workers, deterioration of patient status, respiratory distress, mechanical ventilation, shortage of PPE, and unavailability of rapid and reliable COVID-19 testing.

This uncertainty has resulted in higher levels of post-traumatic stress disorder, anger, loss of motivation, insomnia, nightmares, anxiety, and depression. Many healthcare professionals are struggling with the situation and are emotionally drained.

In another talk on healthcare professionals’ wellbeing, Prof. Fauzia Khan of the Aga Khan University, Pakistan, discussed strategies that could be implemented to improve wellbeing. These include both individual and organisational strategies. Some examples of self-strategies include regular work breaks, proper rest and sleep, emotional control and acceptance of one's limitations and the limitations of the healthcare systems.