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Article

“Covid Just Amplified the Cracks of the System”: Working as a Frontline Health Worker during the COVID-19 Pandemic

1
School of Allied Health, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Melbourne, VIC 3083, Australia
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College of Health and Biomedicine, Victoria University, Footscray, Melbourne, VIC 3011, Australia
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Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW 2006, Australia
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Centre for Health Policy, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC 3050, Australia
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Department of Respiratory Medicine, The Alfred Hospital, 55 Commercial Road, Prahran, VIC 3004, Australia
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Department of Allergy, Immunology and Respiratory Medicine, Central Clinical School, The Alfred Hospital, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC 3004, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Albert Nienhaus and Paul B. Tchounwou
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(19), 10178; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph181910178
Received: 4 August 2021 / Revised: 6 September 2021 / Accepted: 22 September 2021 / Published: 28 September 2021
(This article belongs to the Section Aging)
The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified existing workplace stresses and created new challenges for people working on the healthcare frontline, including rapid workplace changes and increasing uncertainty at work, along with fear of contracting the virus. The purpose of this study is to examine the workplace challenges described by Australian frontline health workers during the pandemic. Drawing on a national online anonymous survey of 9518 healthcare workers, we analysed free-text responses to the question: “What did you find to be the main challenges that you faced during the pandemic?” A qualitative content analysis was undertaken. We identified five key themes relating to participant experiences of workplace challenges. These were: Work-life imbalance; Following orders or caring for patients; Unpredictability, disruption, and inconsistency at work; The right to be safe at work; and (Un)preparedness in the workplace. We argue that working during the COVID-19 pandemic illuminated existing occupational health and safety issues that have serious implications for job satisfaction, health workforce retention, and ultimately, patient care. View Full-Text
Keywords: Australia; COVID-19; extreme work; frontline health workers; health professionals; qualitative Australia; COVID-19; extreme work; frontline health workers; health professionals; qualitative
MDPI and ACS Style

Willis, K.; Ezer, P.; Lewis, S.; Bismark, M.; Smallwood, N. “Covid Just Amplified the Cracks of the System”: Working as a Frontline Health Worker during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 10178. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph181910178

AMA Style

Willis K, Ezer P, Lewis S, Bismark M, Smallwood N. “Covid Just Amplified the Cracks of the System”: Working as a Frontline Health Worker during the COVID-19 Pandemic. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(19):10178. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph181910178

Chicago/Turabian Style

Willis, Karen, Paulina Ezer, Sophie Lewis, Marie Bismark, and Natasha Smallwood. 2021. "“Covid Just Amplified the Cracks of the System”: Working as a Frontline Health Worker during the COVID-19 Pandemic" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18, no. 19: 10178. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph181910178

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