Burnout In Health Care Professions With Amy Felix, RN
Updated: Mar 16, 2022
By: Dr. Tomi Mitchell
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In this episode, I, your host, Dr. Tomi Mitchell, had the pleasure of interviewing the beautiful Amy Felix
About our Guest
Amy Felix is a Nurse Leader, Public Speaker, Thought Leader, and a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. With over 17 years of nursing experience, Amy has worked in high paced pediatric critical care, emergency care, and ambulatory settings which have allowed her to work on projects to improve the quality of care of behavioral health patients in acute care settings, development of a treatment program for patients with chronic disorders, and increase patient access to their electronic health record. In her role as a nurse leader, she currently manages over 40 direct reports and leads enterprise workstreams on professional development and flexible staffing models. Her current passion lies in assessing burnout in Advanced Practice Providers and in developing a culture of wellness for health care providers in the hospital setting.
Amy Felix, Dr. Tomi Mitchell
Dr. Tomi Mitchell 00:08
Hello everyone, this is your host Dr. Tomi Mitchell from the Mental Health and Wellness Show. Today I have the pleasure of introducing Amy Felix. She is a nurse leader, public speaker, thought leader and a pediatric nurse practitioner. With over 17 years of nursing experience, Amy has worked in high pace pediatric critical care, emergency care and ambulatory settings, which has allowed her to work on projects to improve the quality of care of behavioral health patients in acute care settings development of a treatment program for patients with chronic disorders and increase patient access to the electronic health records. In her role as a nurse leader. She currently manages over 40 direct reports and leads enterprise workstreams on professional development and flexible staffing models. Her current passion lies in assessing burnout and advanced practice providers and to developing a culture of wellness for healthcare providers in the hospital setting. Amy, I suppose to say thank you, you know, a couple things about you that resonated with me that well, number one, you are a pediatric nurse practitioner, I love kids.
Amy Felix 01:18
Dr. Tomi Mitchell 01:19
I initially went to family practice and that's also part of the reason I diverse away from it. But anyway, long story. And I am a healthcare provider that is my first career.
Amy Felix 01:32
Dr. Tomi Mitchell 01:33
You know, started in early 2000s going into medical school.
Amy Felix 01:37
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.
Dr. Tomi Mitchell 01:39
You can take it lid into your grip.
Amy Felix 01:43
Dr. Tomi Mitchell 01:44
Uh huh. And then a hospital setting, which I'm all too familiar with. And you're a woman's too of those sisters. This is great.
Amy Felix 01:51
Dr. Tomi Mitchell 01:51
So, ah do you mind sharing a little bit about yourself to the reader so they can catch your essence?
Amy Felix 01:56
Oh, absolutely. So first of all, Dr. Tony, thank you so much for having me on this. As I was telling you earlier, it's my first podcast. But I'm super excited to be here to just kind of talk about my current passion. So as you're alluded to, I am a pediatric nurse practitioner by trade. I've been in the nursing field for over 17 years with just various interests, I can always say that I truly love being a nurse and kind of shared those passions that you or the sentiments you alluded to, by jumping into it in the 2000s and just riveting ready to go. And you know, over the course of my career, there have been moments where I'm like, Wow, I'm tired. Wow, I'm a little more exhausted. Wow, I think I want to do something different. And never really being able to quantify what that meant. Did it mean I just needed to find another job? Did I need to find another specialty that I need to work somewhere else? And have come to this point where now I realize wellness is super important for clinicians, as we are providers naturally, and we're always taking care of others. But how do we care for ourselves so that we can continue to do the work that we do.
Dr. Tomi Mitchell 02:59
Exactly? How do we take care of ourselves? I don't know about you, but I've noticed a lot of care providers, and I am one and I'm guilty. So I'm not pointing fingers and I'm not pointing like I'm pointing fingers like other than myself, I was not taking care of myself. Like I wasn't like, you know, doing drugs and getting wasted and doing all that stuff. But I wasn't doing I wasn't exercising. I wasn't meditating. I wasn't having quality time. I wasn't making my health my number one priority, because I was too busy, either studying, studying, studying. And then when I got into my residency, it's like seeing patients and patients and patients and patients and private practice. Well, let's see more patients. You got to run your business, you got to do paperwork.
Amy Felix 03:41
Dr. Tomi Mitchell 03:41
There's so many records you have to go through. Right?
Amy Felix 03:44
Dr. Tomi Mitchell 03:45
Amy Felix 03:45
It is overwhelming. And I don't think we bring it to attention and that I think people see it as the norm. And that's the piece that I feel like I'm ready to kind of shake up within the nursing field little by little because I don't think it's normal. When I worked in the ICU, my first job was in a pediatric ICU with 54 beds and took care of the sickest of the sickest patients. And our running joke was, we didn't use the bathroom all day. How is that funny, right? For that was a critical joke and so we have bladder scanners. And at the end of the shift, we would see who could hold the most urine. So yeah, it was nursing humor, but when I thought about it was like my poor bladder.
Dr. Tomi Mitchell 04:21
Amy Felix 04:21
I did not use that in 12 hours. That is not normal.
Dr. Tomi Mitchell 04:24
I did that too. Like I haven't thought about this in years. But yeah, that was a joke. That's like, you know, it was like, Oh, we have a bladder infection now, like, we're gonna explode like it was just the norm. Then we didn't know that for kids before I had kids was easy to hold my bladder. Oh, yeah.
Amy Felix 04:40
Right. So when I look at those things as we take us like health care providers, like Oh, that's okay. Like we didn't use a bathroom for a day or we didn't eat lunch.
Dr. Tomi Mitchell 04:49
Amy Felix 04:49
And I'm starving at the end of an overnight shift for a day shift. Wait a minute, but we're caring for people and we're telling them to practice optimal health but I'm not doing the same for ourselves. A little contradictory.
Dr. Tomi Mitchell 05:01
What do you mean? Like we're supposed to be like superheroes like, healthcare writers are not human? We are like, machines, robots need to be there when the patient needs us at 2 in the morning, at six in the morning, we don't have families. I mean, what are you talking about?
Amy Felix 05:16
Well, that's the piece and the conception that I want to break up. I mean, the idea that you know, and this healthcare system we live in, in the US, it truly is like, get access to care anytime you can reach a provider at any time. I've worked in different, oh, yeah. I've been, I've worked in roles where I've been on call at 2 am, or you know, 3pm or on a weekend or the holiday right. And so I think that's one of the good things when we think about the US healthcare system, but the downfall is its providers. And you know, we're seeing that now is headline after headline is talking about what is going on, post the pandemic and how be it's affecting healthcare providers.
Dr. Tomi Mitchell 05:55
100% And you know, what, if this pandemic I called the burnout pandemic, or mental health crisis started long before the pandemic, y'all anyone is listening. I'm like, No, I've been annoyed is, very annoyed. Felt very taking for granted, the system is crazy, like, it's not worth the pay on your body mentally, physically, something has to change, accountability needs to change what's happening. Hello, we read all these things, these principles that gold standards at work, why aren't applying what we know as a system? Hello? Anyone listening?
Amy Felix 06:31
Exactly. And I say, say hello again? Can you hear me?
Dr. Tomi Mitchell 06:36
Pilots can't fly for 24 hours, 36 hours, 72 hours. Why are we supposed to fly for weeks, months on end? Some of us just asking for a friend.
Amy Felix 06:45
Dr. Tomi Mitchell 06:48
Amy Felix 06:48
And I mean, I think you mentioned something that, this is been going on for decades and years, it's almost like this is the expectation.
Dr. Tomi Mitchell 06:55
Amy Felix 06:56
Is it brought it to light. It's not because of COVID.
Dr. Tomi Mitchell 06:58
Amy Felix 06:58
COVID just highlighted it more.
Dr. Tomi Mitchell 07:00
Thank you Amy, COVID brought this and a whole lot of other have some light. It's nothing. It's not COVID, it was there before.
Amy Felix 07:07
Dr. Tomi Mitchell 07:08
Uh huh. Because now they're running to the hospital because they now they really need us.
Amy Felix 07:12
Dr. Tomi Mitchell 07:13
Wow. So what's the solution? Like, where do we go? Because I think it's very clear that I get this burnout, this thing is real. And it's in our healthcare structures, whether physicians, nurses, PA, whatever, we glorify working hard, long hours, and being up all night and rounding on 20 patients at once. And intubating three people a month. So what do we do?
Amy Felix 07:41
So I honestly think the solution is multifaceted. And there are multiple components to it. The first one is it starts from a hospital practice area culture, a hospital can define the culture of its employees. They have the power.
Dr. Tomi Mitchell 07:55
BINGO! Sorry, I just I just couldn't help myself. It starts number one for all you leaders out there you define the culture. Yeah.
Amy Felix 08:05
You define the concern.
Dr. Tomi Mitchell 08:06
So, hey, sorry, it's my inside voice coming out. I'm excited. Okay, go ahead.
Amy Felix 08:11
Right. And so I think, you know, as part of my leadership, and when I started in my role, it was apparent to me my team was burned out. I did a survey, but I didn't need the survey results in order to see that. And so what were the changes that I could actually make to impact their wellness, right? Is it the way that we did our shift times, it's the expectations of responses from emails, just because I may be working at nine o'clock on a Friday night, do I need to send you that email for you to feel like you need to respond. It's those simple little things that can shift the mindset of how we work. And so I say from a hospital standpoint, if there's a cultural shift from hospital and leadership that can impact the well being of an entire team, a unit, a department,
Dr. Tomi Mitchell 08:51
Amy Felix 08:52
It's my primary reason.
Dr. Tomi Mitchell 08:54
Yeah, okay, so you're saying we should start from top, I'm assuming go down.
Amy Felix 08:58
We are starting from the top. So you talk about hospital. And then leaders have to determine how they function as leaders. I think COVID taught me a lot of things about my leadership and things that I had to learn about myself and how I wanted to take care of myself in order to effectively lead a team. And as leaders or managers or supervisors, again, we can affect that change by leading by example, right? Setting realistic expectations for team members. And then third, I think there is some individual accountability or component to it where you have to determine what does wellness look like for you, you may be watching me do yoga or meditating and say, that's crazy, that's not for me, but you enjoy doing hikes in the park or hanging out with your friends, whatever it is that makes you feel well, that brings you joy things and decide to actually do them rather than just saying I'm too busy because I'm always working.
Dr. Tomi Mitchell 09:46
Exactly. And I like how you put that bare of it. The individual accountability piece that we actually have to do something like we have to exercise do something we enjoy you mean have hobbies? Is that what you're saying? I mean like?
Amy Felix 09:59
No idea of like hobbies, like you can do something. Isn't that cool?
Dr. Tomi Mitchell 10:04
Does it mean, does that but it's running for our code count as a hobby. You know, there is a.
Amy Felix 10:07
Dr. Tomi Mitchell 10:08
No? Oh okay. Sassy to my friend.
Amy Felix 10:10
No, none. Running two codes do not count.
Dr. Tomi Mitchell 10:16
That was enough exercise.
Amy Felix 10:17
Yeah, it's only, I think as all as clinicians, we all get a lot of steps in so those some things don't come on hobby.
Dr. Tomi Mitchell 10:23
Yeah, and you know, we get we say we get lot of steps. But uh, how come it doesn't necessarily show in a lot of it? I'm just, you know again it was asking as a friend.
Amy Felix 10:33
Because we don't have healthy eating habits, of course. I mean, if you're, if you're not eating all day, and you're eating one meal, and it's probably everything you can find at whatever hour, I mean, you know it's postponed. It's right. You should know this because we're healthcare providers. But maybe it only applies to our patients and not to the actual people.
Dr. Tomi Mitchell 10:52
I thought, yeah, I thought it was just one way giving them their diabetic counts that we tell them to exercise and have a low salt diet.
Amy Felix 10:59
Dr. Tomi Mitchell 11:00
Ahh, so advise us to.
Amy Felix 11:01
Yes. It does.
Dr. Tomi Mitchell 11:02
Oh, why? Why is that important?
Amy Felix 11:04
I mean, if we think about what we've learned in rowers, nutrition classes and anatomy, clearly, clearly, we need to make sure that we are providing the appropriate nutrients for a buyer to function at this highest level, my running joke in my seconds in my first running joke that, my running joke was that around noon, we'd be in the middle of clinic session, and they could see my energy start just drifting, and get really snappy. And my medical system would always come to me say, Do you want a piece of chocolate? I was like, No, I'm okay. She's like, No, you needed the chocolate right? Oh, I am I have definitely diagnosed myself that I get hungry I got allergy thats why I always have snack.
Dr. Tomi Mitchell 11:47
Amy Felix 11:47
But even so just the functioning level, right? Like, you must realize that when you're depleting your body, whether it's through hydration or nutrition, right, is your mind functioning at the best capacity? And if it's not, what does that translate to into how you provide patient care?
Dr. Tomi Mitchell 12:01
So probably wouldn't be a good idea to go on to a surgery when hungry, you know what I'm saying I'm making decision when hungry.
Amy Felix 12:07
Wouldn't be good. It wouldn't be good for me. But you know, I would individually credibility, you may want to reassess it. That's your norm.
Dr. Tomi Mitchell 12:15
Yeah. Hmm. That's something else. Hmm. So if the leaders change, change the culture makes wellness an expectation, not by guilt, but it's like everyone is participating. It's built in the scheduling. It's builts in the brakes. It's built in incentivization perhaps and then it trickles down and then those in that structure do their part and ask help. And they have a place where they can ask help and not feel judged. And catch us ties. You mean, that's gonna help Amy, like I'm used. I'm not. Where is this place you're talking about? Can you tell me.
Amy Felix 12:51
I don't, so I haven't discovered this place yet so i didn't have.
Dr. Tomi Mitchell 12:57
Okay, so it's utopia,so we're being hopeful.