The Liquefaction of Healthcare Services: Consequences and Possible Solutions

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Vinícius Shinoda Pereira and Mr. Gabriel Dallazem de Farias, two fourth year medical students from Cesumar University Center – UniCesumar, Brazil. They are affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


The relationships establishing postmodern social groupings are metaphorically compared, by Zygmunt Bauman, to matter in its liquid state. The liquids, according to Bauman, do not maintain a defined form, having as characteristics the fluidity and malleability. For him, this is the nature of contemporary bonds, marked by incessant transformations and instabilities. Thus, the concept of liquid society arises, a definition that also encompasses the working relationships.

The post modern concept of work brought in the attribution of a multiplicity of duties to the same employee, many of them nonspecific and unrelated to their primary function, revealing that more important than the qualification of the worker and his well-being, is to exploit it to the maximum.

However, all this is accomplished thanks to time, quality of life and disqualification of the worker, creating a sense of irrelevance, uncertainty and, consequently, demotivation.

The parameters of the post-modern labor market reach health services. In several health services around the world, especially in emergency departments, a highly stressful work environment is observed, which is the result of situations, such as a scant staff, intense demand for work, extensive working hours and vague functions.

Several studies have shown high levels of stress and suicide among nurses. A cross-sectional study, conducted with 850 participants in Hong Kong, concluded that nurses have a higher rate of depression, anxiety and stress when compared to the general population. Employees undergoing prolonged stress become vulnerable to health problems, resulting in absenteeism and a drop in productivity.

In this context, dissatisfaction with the workplace becomes inevitable. This contributes to a higher turnover of workers, especially young people who already have higher turnover in the labor market, a fact proven by a research conducted in 2016 by Deloitte in the USA, where it was found that 2 out of 3 professionals born between the 1980s and 1990s, the so-called Generation Y, wanted to change jobs until 2020.

Based on positive psychology, the identification of the positive attributes of employees and the development of organizational strategies based on these, would result in a happier, more focused and satisfied staff. It would also allow the establishment of well-defined functions for each employee. All these factors together would contribute to the increase in performance and productivity, in addition to the decrease in turnover, especially of young workers.

When superiors pays attention to workers and their requirements, recognizes and encourages their work, their performance and job satisfaction also increase. This can be accomplished through better communication between superiors and workers, including openness to constant feedback.

However, in addition to this, there must be the hiring of an adequate number of employees, according to the demand of the health service, in addition to the provision of psychological care, to prevent and treat workers’ mental illnesses.

These alternatives would contribute to the reduction of the kinetic energy of liquefied work relationships, controlling their fluidity and bringing more stability to the current scenario of health services.

References

  1. Bauman, Z., 2000. Liquid Modernity. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press;
  2. SILVA, Rafael Bianchi; MANDELLI, Jessica Pedrosa; DIAS, Daniela Midori Taguchi. Sobre a relação homem-trabalho no contexto da sociedade líquido-moderna: reflexões a partir de Zygmunt Bauman. Barbarói, [s.l.], p.293-309, 12 jul. 2015. APESC – Associacao Pro-Ensino em Santa Cruz do Sul. http://dx.doi.org/10.17058/barbaroi.v0i0.5263;
  3. Bardhan, R.; Heaton, K.; Davis, M.; Chen, P.; Dickinson, D.A.; Lungu, C.T. A Cross Sectional Study Evaluating Psychosocial Job Stress and Health Risk in Emergency Department Nurses. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 3243;
  4. SIEGRIST, J.; DRAGANO, N.. Psychosoziale Belastungen und Erkrankungsrisiken im Erwerbsleben. Bundesgesundheitsblatt – Gesundheitsforschung – Gesundheitsschutz, [s.l.], v. 51, n. 3, p.305-312, mar. 2008. Springer Science and Business Media LLC. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00103-008-0461-5;
  5. The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey: Winning over the next generation of leaders. 2017;
  6. STRÖMBERG, Carl; ABOAGYE, Emmanuel; HAGBERG, Jan; BERGSTRÖM, Gunnar; LOHELA-KARLSSON, Malin. Estimating the Effect and Economic Impact of Absenteeism, Presenteeism, and Work Environment–Related Problems on Reductions in Productivity from a Managerial Perspective. Value In Health, [s.l.], v. 20, n. 8, p.1058-1064, set. 2017. Elsevier BV. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jval.2017.05.008;
  7. KOUR, Jasleen; EL-DEN, Jamal; SRIRATANAVIRIYAKUL, Narumon. The Role of Positive Psychology in Improving Employees’ Performance and Organizational Productivity: An Experimental Study. Procedia Computer Science, [s.l.], v. 161, p.226-232, 2019. Elsevier BV. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.procs.2019.11.118.

About the author

Vinícius Shinoda Pereira is a fourth year medical student from Cesumar University Center – UniCesumar. Member of IFMSA Brazil UniCesumar as LP (Local President) and LVPI (Local Vice President for Internal Affairs). Vinícius is interested in human relations inside and outside the health field. He also believes and fights for public health.

Gabriel Dallazem de Farias is a fourth year medical student from Cesumar University Center – UniCesumar. Member of IFMSA Brazil UniCesumar as LORA-D (Director of Health and Sexual and Reproductive Rights, including HIV and AIDS). Gabriel believes in the strength of minorities and fights for the end of intolerance and inequality.

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