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Along with “The Great Resignation,” burnout is one of the most consequential repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic. While the impact of burnout is being felt across industries, health care has been hit particularly hard, especially for those working on the front lines of care. To level set, this isn’t something new — prior to the pandemic, physicians were twice as likely as the general population to experience burnout, with around 40% reporting depression and suicidal ideation — but this has been greatly exacerbated over the last two years and, today, 60% to 75% report symptoms of exhaustion, depression, sleep disorders and PTSD. And nurses are reportedly just as burned out as physicians.1

Therein lies the problem. How does the health care industry address an underlying issue with the added stress and burden of a pandemic that shows no signs of slowing down? The entire health care community has been tasked with thinking and acting like the best patient support system — collaboratively, holistically and compassionately — as it helps to support patients’ medical and non-medical needs throughout their health care journey. But with this growing mental health crisis, perhaps it’s time that the workers themselves are looked at as patients who also need a support system.

Today, 60% to 75% [of health care workers] report symptoms of exhaustion, depression, sleep disorders and PTSD.

In February, STAT held a virtual event, “The Exhaustion Epidemic: Examining the Covid-19 Burnout Crisis in Health Care,” that delved into how the pandemic has left health care workers mentally fatigued, with many leaving the industry as a result. As the sponsor of the event, Astellas joined a diverse group of speakers for a conversation on the emotional burden health care workers are facing and uncovering solutions to support and retain them.

One way to help address burnout and the mental health challenges across our industry – from hospitals to health systems to pharmaceutical companies – is to make sure wellness is prioritized and we’re supporting each other as an industry. Interestingly, an American Medical Association survey of nearly 21,000 health care workers found that while 43% suffered from work overload and 49% had burnout, the odds of burnout were 40% lower in those who felt valued by their organizations, which was 46% of respondents.2

Clearly, the role companies play in the wellbeing of their employees is an important one. For example, Astellas is committed to facilitating and strengthening the most authentic connection possible between the company, employees, providers and, ultimately, patients, to build a healthier and happier culture by always keeping the focus squarely on people, from those doing the work to those reaping the benefits of it. For example, Astellas pulled its sales representatives out of the field very early in the pandemic and replaced in-person interactions with virtual ones that are safer and more convenient for health care workers. Since then, we’ve taken concrete steps to not contribute to the burden they face by being more flexible and sensitive in our interactions and finding new ways of communicating — with ongoing restrictions around travel and in-person interactions, we’re ensuring that our sales teams have the technology and, importantly, the training to discuss and address customer needs how and when it’s most convenient.

Our emphasis on culture and employee wellness has been instrumental to Astellas’ growth, and we continue to proactively evolve the ways we work inside and outside the organization, challenging old ways of thinking and creating an environment of continuous improvement.

Increased sensitivity to their current situation may provide a roadmap for health care workers to improve the quality of their work experience and help counter burnout and mental health concerns.

We’ve focused resources on supporting the mental and behavioral health of our employees, from offering free access to in person and virtual counseling, expanding access to mental and behavioral telemedicine, and enhancing benefits levels for these services. We’ve also partnered with external organizations who provide resources for employees through unexpected life events and all aspects of the caregiving cycle for children and family members no matter their age. We strive to provide platforms for employees to connect and share their voice, whether in inclusive Employee Impact Groups, or during our “Ask Me Anything” sessions with senior leaders.

While these approaches may not address all of the extreme challenges that patient-facing doctors and nurses, particularly in hospital or urgent care settings, are currently facing, this increased sensitivity to their current situation may provide a roadmap for health care workers to improve the quality of their work experience and help counter burnout and mental health concerns. Keys to achieving success is ensuring transparency every step of the way, coupled with frequent two-way communication. Effecting change requires more than just pushing out information. It’s about creating dialogue that makes employees part of the process – and the solution – that can lead to positive change.

Burnout is something we will continue to navigate, but by being effective partners to those we work and interact with, we have an opportunity to create a healthy work environment and culture that supports their wellbeing and help to address mental and emotional needs. If workers are doing well, patients are going to do well, too.

For more information about how Astellas continues to navigate the Covid-19 pandemic and support our employees and patients, visit

1 U.S. News & World Report. “U.S. Faces Crisis of Burned-Out Health Care Workers.” November 15, 2021. Available at: Accessed December 17, 2021
2 American Medical Association. Practice Management. “Half of health workers report burnout amid COVID-19.” July 21, 2021. Available at: Accessed December 20, 2021.